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Journal Article

On the Nature of the BOLD fMRI Contrast Mechanism

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http://pubman.mpdl.mpg.de/cone/persons/resource/persons84063

Logothetis,  NK
Department Physiology of Cognitive Processes, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;

http://pubman.mpdl.mpg.de/cone/persons/resource/persons84137

Pfeuffer,  J
Department Physiology of Cognitive Processes, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Logothetis, N., & Pfeuffer, J. (2004). On the Nature of the BOLD fMRI Contrast Mechanism. Magnetic Resonance Imaging, 22(10), 1517-1531. doi:10.1016/j.mri.2004.10.018.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0013-D73B-A
Abstract
First developed about fifteen years ago, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) has become the leading research tool for mapping brain activity. The technique works by detecting the levels of oxygen in the blood, point by point, throughout the brain. In other words it relies on a surrogate signal, resulting from changes in oxygenation, blood volume and flow, and does not directly measure neural activity. Although a relationship between changes in brain activity and blood flow has long been speculated, indirectly examined and suggested, and surely anticipated and expected, the neural basis of the fMRI signal was only recently demonstrated directly in experiments using combined imaging and intracortical recordings. In the present paper we discuss the results obtained via such combined experiments. We also discuss our current knowledge of the extracellularly measured signals, of the neural processes that they represent, and of the structural and functional neurovascular coupling, which links such processes with the hemodynamic changes that offer the surrogate signal we use to map brain activity. We conclude by considering applications of invasive MRI, including injections of paramagnetic tracers for the study of connectivity in the living animal, and simultaneous imaging and electrical microstimulation.