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Open Access Methodology article

Components of acquisition-to-acquisition variance in continuous arterial spin labelling (CASL) imaging

Roberto Viviani1*, Petra Beschoner12, Hanna Lo1, Nadine Osterfeld1, Jan Thöne3 and Eun-Jin Sim1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy III, University of Ulm, Leimgrubenweg 12, Ulm, Germany

2 Department of Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy, University of Ulm, Hochsträß, Ulm, Germany

3 Department of Neurology, St Josef Hospital/Ruhr-University Bochum, Gudrunstr. 56, Bochum, Germany

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BMC Neuroscience 2010, 11:30  doi:10.1186/1471-2202-11-30

Published: 2 March 2010



Images of perfusion estimates obtained with the continuous arterial spin labelling technique are characterized by variation between single acquisitions. Little is known about the spatial determinants of this variation during the acquisition process and their impact on voxel-by-voxel estimates of effects.


We show here that the spatial patterns of covariance between voxels arising during the acquisition of these images uncover distinct mechanisms through which this variance arises: through variation in global perfusion levels; through the action of large vessels and other, less well characterized, large anatomical structures; and through the effect of noisy areas such as the edges of the brain.


Knowledge of these covariance patterns is important to experimenters for a correct interpretation of findings, especially for studies where relatively few acquisitions are made.