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Magn Reson Imaging. 2010 Oct;28(8):1087-94. doi: 10.1016/j.mri.2009.12.028. Epub 2010 Feb 19.

Coupling of neural activity and fMRI-BOLD in the motion area MT.

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Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Spemannstrasse 38, Tübingen, Germany.


The fMRI-BOLD contrast is widely used to study the neural basis of sensory perception and cognition. This signal, however, reflects neural activity only indirectly, and the detailed mechanisms of neurovascular coupling and the neurophysiological correlates of the BOLD signal remain debated. Here we investigate the coupling of BOLD and electrophysiological signals in the motion area MT of the macaque monkey by simultaneously recording both signals. Our results demonstrate that a prominent neuronal response property of area MT, so-called motion opponency, can be used to induce dissociations of BOLD and neuronal firing. During the presentation of a stimulus optimally driving the local neurons, both field potentials [local field potentials (LFPs)] and spiking activity [multi-unit activity (MUA)] correlated with the BOLD signal. When introducing the motion opponency stimulus, however, correlations of MUA with BOLD were much reduced, and LFPs were a much better predictor of the BOLD signal than MUA. In addition, for a subset of recording sites we found positive BOLD and LFP responses in the presence of decreases in MUA, regardless of the stimulus used. Together, these results demonstrate that correlations between BOLD and MUA are dependent on the particular site and stimulus paradigm, and foster the notion that the fMRI-BOLD signal reflects local dendrosomatic processing and synaptic activity rather than principal neuron spiking responses.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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