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Imaging somatosensory cortex at 7 tesla: maps, neurochemicals, and perception.

The advent of 7 tesla MRI offers a range of new capabilities for studying human brain function, from higher spatial resolution BOLD fMRI, to the improved spectral resolution of MR spectroscopy for the quantification of neurochemicals. Here I outline a number of studies conducted using the 7 tesla system in Oxford, with a specific focus on understanding the organization of primary somatosensory cortex (S1) at the level of individual human participants.  This work addresses the ability to map the topographic organization of S1 in individual people using BOLD fMRI, and the potential for experience-dependent plasticity in these maps over the very short-term. Further work considers what drives the inter-subject variability in the functional organization of S1 in terms of the local neurochemical milieu, and how this variability relates to individual differences in tactile perception.