Spectral-editing measurements of GABA in the human brain with and without macromolecule suppression

Ashley D. Harris, Nicolaas A.J. Puts, Peter B. Barker, Richard A.E. Edden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Purpose The conventional spectral-editing experiment used to measure GABA in the human brain also contains a contribution from macromolecules (MM), and the combined GABA plus MM signal is often referred to as "GABA+". More recently, methods have been developed to estimate GABA free from MM contamination. In this study, the relationship between GABA acquired with MM suppression and conventional GABA+ measurements was examined. Methods GABA-edited MEGA-PRESS experiments with and without MM suppression were performed in the sensorimotor and occipital cortex of 12 healthy subjects at 3 Tesla. The correlation between GABA+ and MM-suppressed GABA measures was then determined. Results Across all data, a significant correlation between GABA+ and MM-suppressed GABA was found (r = 0.48; P = 0.02). Regionally, the sensorimotor voxel showed a trend toward a correlation of r = 0.53, P = 0.07 and the occipital voxel did not show a correlation, r = 0.058, P = 0.9. Conclusion GABA+ and MM-suppressed GABA are moderately correlated, but statistical power to reveal this relationship may vary regionally. The MM signal, while often assumed to be functionally irrelevant, appears to show inter-individual and inter-regional variance that impacts the correlation of GABA+ and MM-suppressed GABA. Magn Reson Med 74:1523-1529, 2015.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1523-1529
Number of pages7
JournalMagnetic resonance in medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015


  • GABA
  • brain
  • edited MRS
  • macromolecules GABA+

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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