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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1999 Aug 3;96(16):9403-8.

Linear coupling between cerebral blood flow and oxygen consumption in activated human cortex.

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Room WB325, McConnell Brain Imaging Centre, Montreal Neurological Institute, Quebec, Canada H3A 2B4.


The aim of this study was to test the hypothesis that, within a specific cortical unit, fractional changes in cerebral blood flow (CBF) and cerebral metabolic rate of oxygen consumption (CMR(O(2))) are coupled through an invariant relationship during physiological stimulation. This aim was achieved by simultaneously measuring relative changes in these quantities in human primary visual cortex (V1) during graded stimulation with patterns designed to selectively activate different populations of V1 neurons. Primary visual cortex was delineated individually in each subject by using phase-encoded retinotopic mapping. Flow-sensitive alternating inversion recovery MRI, in conjunction with blood oxygenation-sensitive MRI and hypercapnic calibration, was used to monitor CBF and CMR(O(2)). The stimuli used included (i) diffuse isoluminant chromatic displays; (ii) high spatial-frequency achromatic luminance gratings; and (iii) radial checkerboard patterns containing both color and luminance contrast modulated at different temporal rates. Perfusion responses to each pattern were graded by varying luminance and/or color modulation amplitudes. For all stimulus types, fractional changes in blood flow and oxygen uptake were found to be linearly coupled in a consistent ratio of approximately 2:1. The most potent stimulus produced CBF and CMR(O(2)) increases of 48 +/- 5% and 25 +/- 4%, respectively, with no evidence of a plateau for oxygen consumption. Estimation of aerobic ATP yields from the observed CMR(O(2)) increases and comparison with the maximum possible anaerobic ATP contribution indicate that elevated energy demands during brain activation are met largely through oxidative metabolism.

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