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Magn Reson Imaging. 2010 Sep;28(7):995-1003. doi: 10.1016/j.mri.2010.03.007. Epub 2010 Apr 24.

Comparison of alpha-chloralose, medetomidine and isoflurane anesthesia for functional connectivity mapping in the rat.

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Department of Radiology, Center for Biomedical Imaging, New York University School of Medicine, New York, NY 10012, USA.


Functional connectivity measures based upon low-frequency blood-oxygenation-level-dependent functional magnetic resonance imaging (BOLD fMRI) signal fluctuations have become a widely used tool for investigating spontaneous brain activity in humans. Still unknown, however, is the precise relationship between neural activity, the hemodynamic response and fluctuations in the MRI signal. Recent work from several groups had shown that correlated low-frequency fluctuations in the BOLD signal can be detected in the anesthetized rat - a first step toward elucidating this relationship. Building on this preliminary work, through this study, we demonstrate that functional connectivity observed in the rat depends strongly on the type of anesthesia used. Power spectra of spontaneous fluctuations and the cross-correlation-based connectivity maps from rats anesthetized with alpha-chloralose, medetomidine or isoflurane are presented using a high-temporal-resolution imaging sequence that ensures minimal contamination from physiological noise. The results show less localized correlation in rats anesthetized with isoflurane as compared with rats anesthetized with alpha-chloralose or medetomidine. These experiments highlight the utility of using different types of anesthesia to explore the fundamental physiological relationships of the BOLD signal and suggest that the mechanisms contributing to functional connectivity involve a complicated relationship between changes in neural activity, neurovascular coupling and vascular reactivity.

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