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Hum Brain Mapp. 2019 Mar 13. doi: 10.1002/hbm.24566. [Epub ahead of print]

Neurochemical correlates of scene processing in the precuneus/posterior cingulate cortex: A multimodal fMRI and 1 H-MRS study.

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Cardiff University Brain Research Imaging Centre, School of Psychology, Cardiff University, Wales, UK.


Precuneus/posterior cingulate cortex (PCu/PCC) are key components of a midline network, activated during rest but also in tasks that involve construction of scene or situation models. Despite growing interest in PCu/PCC functional alterations in disease and disease risk, the underlying neurochemical modulators of PCu/PCC's task-evoked activity are largely unstudied. Here, a multimodal imaging approach was applied to investigate whether interindividual differences in PCu/PCC fMRI activity, elicited during perceptual discrimination of scene stimuli, were correlated with local brain metabolite levels, measured during resting-state 1 H-MRS. Forty healthy young adult participants completed an fMRI perceptual odd-one-out task for scenes, objects and faces. 1 H-MRS metabolites N-acetyl-aspartate (tNAA), glutamate (Glx) and γ-amino-butyric acid (GABA+) were quantified via PRESS and MEGA-PRESS scans in a PCu/PCC voxel and an occipital (OCC) control voxel. Whole brain fMRI revealed a cluster in right dorsal PCu/PCC that showed a greater BOLD response to scenes versus faces and objects. When extracted from an independently defined PCu/PCC region of interest, scene activity (vs. faces and objects and also vs. baseline) was positively correlated with PCu/PCC, but not OCC, tNAA. A voxel-wise regression analysis restricted to the PCu/PCC 1 H-MRS voxel area identified a significant PCu/PCC cluster, confirming the positive correlation between scene-related BOLD activity and PCu/PCC tNAA. There were no correlations between PCu/PCC activity and Glx or GABA+ levels. These results demonstrate, for the first time, that scene activity in PCu/PCC is linked to local tNAA levels, identifying a neurochemical influence on interindividual differences in the task-driven activity of a key brain hub.


N-acetyl aspartate; GABA; default mode network; fMRI-MRS; glutamate; posterior cingulate cortex; precuneus; scene perception


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