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Neuroimage. 2013 Oct 15;80:297-306. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2013.04.010. Epub 2013 Apr 13.

The contribution of electrophysiology to functional connectivity mapping.

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Ernst Strüngmann Institute for Neuroscience in Cooperation with Max Planck Society, Deutschordenstraβe 46, 60528 Frankfurt am Main, Germany.


A powerful way to probe brain function is to assess the relationship between simultaneous changes in activity across different parts of the brain. In recent years, the temporal activity correlation between brain areas has frequently been taken as a measure of their functional connections. Evaluating 'functional connectivity' in this way is particularly popular in the fMRI community, but has also drawn interest among electrophysiologists. Like hemodynamic fluctuations observed with fMRI, electrophysiological signals display significant temporal fluctuations, even in the absence of a stimulus. These neural fluctuations exhibit a correlational structure over a wide range of spatial and temporal scales. Initial evidence suggests that certain aspects of this correlational structure bear a high correspondence to so-called functional networks defined using fMRI. The growing family of methods to study activity covariation, combined with the diverse neural mechanisms that contribute to the spontaneous fluctuations, has somewhat blurred the operational concept of functional connectivity. What is clear is that spontaneous activity is a conspicuous, energy-consuming feature of the brain. Given its prominence and its practical applications for the functional connectivity mapping of brain networks, it is of increasing importance that we understand its neural origins as well as its contribution to normal brain function.

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