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Three-dimensional (3D) encoding methods are increasingly being explored as alternatives to two-dimensional (2D) multi-slice acquisitions in fMRI, particularly in cases where high isotropic resolution is needed. 3D multi-shot EPI acquisition, as the workhorse of 3D fMRI imaging, is susceptible to physiological fluctuations which can induce inter-shot phase variations, and thus reducing the achievable tSNR, negating some of the benefit of 3D encoding. This issue can be particularly problematic at ultra-high fields like 7T, which have more severe off-resonance effects. In this work, we aim to improve the temporal stability of 3D multi-shot EPI at 7T by improving its robustness to inter-shot phase variations. We presented a 3D segmented CAIPI sampling trajectory ("seg-CAIPI") and an improved reconstruction method based on Hankel structured low-rank matrix recovery. Simulation and in-vivo results demonstrate that the combination of the seg-CAIPI sampling scheme and the proposed structured low-rank reconstruction is a promising way to effectively reduce the unwanted temporal variance induced by inter-shot physiological fluctuations, and thus improve the robustness of 3D multi-shot EPI for fMRI.

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3D fMRI, 7T fMRI, Block-Hankel structured matrix, CAIPI sampling, Multi-shot EPI, Physiological noise, Structured low-rank reconstruction, Humans, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Image Processing, Computer-Assisted, Echo-Planar Imaging, Brain, Algorithms