The BOAST (BOLD Optimization for Acquisition Sensitivity Tool) toolbox for SPM helps to optimize echo-planar imaging (EPI) protocols for maximal BOLD sensitivity, particularly, where affected by susceptibility artifacts.

Optimal use of and settings of z-shim, gradient polarity, and slice tilt can significantly increase the BOLD sensitivity. Since the method is based on numerical simulations, it does not require expensive measurements like previous approaches. This also improves its flexibility and automation.

The approach and its applications are described in detail in the open-access publication by Volz et al. (Neuroimage 2019).


The BOAST toolbox is free but copyright software, distributed under the terms of the GNU General Public Licence as published by the Free Software Foundation. No formal support or maintenance is provided or implied.


The BOAST toolbox MATLAB code can be downloaded from its GitHub repository.


The software is developed in a collaboration between the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive ad Brain Sciences, Leipzig, and the Wellcome Centre for Human Neuroimaging, UCL, London.


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