Multi-modal imaging is essential for advancing our understanding of brain function and unraveling pathophysiological processes underlying neurological and psychiatric disorders. Magnetic resonance (MR) and optoacoustic (OA) imaging have been shown to provide highly complementary contrasts and capabilities for preclinical neuroimaging. True integration between these modalities can thus offer unprecedented capabilities for studying the rodent brain in action. We report on a hybrid magnetic resonance and optoacoustic tomography (MROT) system for concurrent noninvasive structural and functional imaging of the mouse brain. Volumetric OA tomography was designed as an insert into a high-field MR scanner by integrating a customized MR-compatible spherical transducer array, an illumination module, and a dedicated radiofrequency coil. A tailored data processing pipeline has been developed to mitigate signal crosstalk and accurately register image volumes acquired with T1-weighted, angiography, and blood oxygenation level-dependent (BOLD) sequences onto the corresponding vascular and oxygenation data recorded with the OA modality. We demonstrate the concurrent acquisition of dual-mode anatomical and angiographic brain images with the scanner, as well as real-time functional readings of multiple hemodynamic parameters from animals subjected to oxygenation stress. Our approach combines the functional and molecular imaging advantages of OA with the superb soft-tissue contrast of MR, further providing an excellent platform for cross-validation of functional readings by the two modalities.

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