Using synthetic MR images for distortion correction

David F. Montez, Andrew N. Van, Ryland L. Miller, Nicole A. Seider, Scott Marek, Annie Zheng, Dillan J. Newbold, Kristen Scheidter, Eric Feczko, Anders J. Perrone, Oscar Miranda-Dominguez, Eric A. Earl, Benjamin P. Kay, Abhinav K. Jha, Aristeidis Sotiras, Timothy O. Laumann, Deanna J. Greene, Evan M. Gordon, M. Dylan Tisdall, Andre van der KouweDamien A. Fair, Nico U.F. Dosenbach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Functional MRI (fMRI) data acquired using echo-planar imaging (EPI) are highly distorted by magnetic field inhomogeneities. Distortion and differences in image contrast between EPI and T1-weighted and T2-weighted (T1w/T2w) images makes their alignment a challenge. Typically, field map data are used to correct EPI distortions. Alignments achieved with field maps can vary greatly and depends on the quality of field map data. However, many public datasets lack field map data entirely. Additionally, reliable field map data is often difficult to acquire in high-motion pediatric or developmental cohorts. To address this, we developed Synth, a software package for distortion correction and cross-modal image registration that does not require field map data. Synth combines information from T1w and T2w anatomical images to construct an idealized undistorted synthetic image with similar contrast properties to EPI data. This synthetic image acts as an effective reference for individual-specific distortion correction. Using pediatric (ABCD: Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development) and adult (MSC: Midnight Scan Club; HCP: Human Connectome Project) data, we demonstrate that Synth performs comparably to field map distortion correction approaches, and often outperforms them. Field map-less distortion correction with Synth allows accurate and precise registration of fMRI data with missing or corrupted field map information.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101234
JournalDevelopmental Cognitive Neuroscience
StatePublished - Apr 2023


  • Distortion correction
  • EPI
  • Field map
  • Registration
  • fMRI


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