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Neuroimage. 2012 Aug 15;62(2):930-7. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2012.02.022. Epub 2012 Feb 17.

Calibrated FMRI.

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Dept of Physiology, Université de Montréal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.


Functional magnetic resonance imaging with blood oxygenation level-dependent (BOLD) contrast has had a tremendous influence on human neuroscience in the last twenty years, providing a non-invasive means of mapping human brain function with often exquisite sensitivity and detail. However the BOLD method remains a largely qualitative approach. While the same can be said of anatomic MRI techniques, whose clinical and research impact has not been diminished in the slightest by the lack of a quantitative interpretation of their image intensity, the quantitative expression of BOLD responses as a percent of the baseline T2*- weighted signal has been viewed as necessary since the earliest days of fMRI. Calibrated MRI attempts to dissociate changes in oxygen metabolism from changes in blood flow and volume, the latter three quantities contributing jointly to determine the physiologically ambiguous percent BOLD change. This dissociation is typically performed using a "calibration" procedure in which subjects inhale a gas mixture containing small amounts of carbon dioxide or enriched oxygen to produce changes in blood flow and BOLD signal which can be measured under well-defined hemodynamic conditions. The outcome is a calibration parameter M which can then be substituted into an expression providing the fractional change in oxygen metabolism given changes in blood flow and BOLD signal during a task. The latest generation of calibrated MRI methods goes beyond fractional changes to provide absolute quantification of resting-state oxygen consumption in micromolar units, in addition to absolute measures of evoked metabolic response. This review discusses the history, challenges, and advances in calibrated MRI, from the personal perspective of the author.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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