Harmonization of multi-scanner in vivo magnetic resonance spectroscopy: ENIGMA consortium task group considerations

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleContributedpeer-review


  • Ashley D. Harris - , University of Calgary (Author)
  • Houshang Amiri - , Kerman University of Medical Sciences (Author)
  • Mariana Bento - , University of Calgary (Author)
  • Ronald Cohen - , University of Florida (Author)
  • Christopher R.K. Ching - , University of Southern California (Author)
  • Christina Cudalbu - , CIBM Center for Biomedical Imaging, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL) (Author)
  • Emily L. Dennis - , University of Utah (Author)
  • Arne Doose - , Division of Psychological and Social Medicine and Developmental Neurosciences (Author)
  • Stefan Ehrlich - , Division of Psychological and Social Medicine and Developmental Neurosciences (Author)
  • Ivan I. Kirov - , New York University (Author)
  • Ralf Mekle - , Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin (Author)
  • Georg Oeltzschner - , Johns Hopkins University (Author)
  • Eric Porges - , University of Florida (Author)
  • Roberto Souza - , University of Calgary (Author)
  • Friederike I. Tam - , Division of Psychological and Social Medicine and Developmental Neurosciences (Author)
  • Brian Taylor - , University of Texas at Austin (Author)
  • Paul M. Thompson - , University of Southern California (Author)
  • Yann Quidé - , University of New South Wales (Author)
  • Elisabeth A. Wilde - , University of Utah (Author)
  • John Williamson - , University of Florida (Author)
  • Alexander P. Lin - , Harvard University (Author)
  • Brenda Bartnik-Olson - , Loma Linda University Health (Author)


Magnetic resonance spectroscopy is a powerful, non-invasive, quantitative imaging technique that allows for the measurement of brain metabolites that has demonstrated utility in diagnosing and characterizing a broad range of neurological diseases. Its impact, however, has been limited due to small sample sizes and methodological variability in addition to intrinsic limitations of the method itself such as its sensitivity to motion. The lack of standardization from a data acquisition and data processing perspective makes it difficult to pool multiple studies and/or conduct multisite studies that are necessary for supporting clinically relevant findings. Based on the experience of the ENIGMA MRS work group and a review of the literature, this manuscript provides an overview of the current state of MRS data harmonization. Key factors that need to be taken into consideration when conducting both retrospective and prospective studies are described. These include (1) MRS acquisition issues such as pulse sequence, RF and B0 calibrations, echo time, and SNR; (2) data processing issues such as pre-processing steps, modeling, and quantitation; and (3) biological factors such as voxel location, age, sex, and pathology. Various approaches to MRS data harmonization are then described including meta-analysis, mega-analysis, linear modeling, ComBat and artificial intelligence approaches. The goal is to provide both novice and experienced readers with the necessary knowledge for conducting MRS data harmonization studies.


Original languageEnglish
Article number1045678
JournalFrontiers in neurology
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jan 2023

External IDs

PubMedCentral PMC9845632
Scopus 85146469381
WOS 000914804900001
Mendeley fa8c2640-756c-3a9a-9a99-2a5157439764
ORCID /0000-0003-2132-4445/work/142236366
ORCID /0000-0002-5026-1239/work/142250314
ORCID /0000-0001-8333-867X/work/142251386


Research priority areas of TU Dresden

ASJC Scopus subject areas


  • brain, harmonization, magnetic resonance spectroscopy, multi-site, multi-vendor, prospective, retrospective