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J Neurophysiol. 1997 May;77(5):2780-7.

Ocular dominance in human V1 demonstrated by functional magnetic resonance imaging.

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Advanced Imaging Laboratories, The John P. Robarts Research Institute, London, Ontario, Canada.


Very high resolution functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) at a 4 Tesla (T) magnetic field was used to map ocular dominance regions in the human visual cortical layers using the blood oxygen level dependent (BOLD) contrast mechanism. The fMRI response from primary visual cortex (V1) exhibited a distribution of ocular dominance reminiscent of the single-cell recordings of Hubel and Wiesel. Pixels could be grouped into seven categories varying from left-only response to binocular-only response to right-only responses. Nonspecific responses were found in the MRI-visible draining veins as well as in the parenchyma. Although large vessel BOLD signals are easily detectable, regardless of field strength, they demonstrate a fMRI response to photic input that could not be used to distinguish ocular dominance. The difference in BOLD response between a region activated by one eye and that activated by the other is only 2.9% on average. This necessitates the use of a difference paradigm to visualize the regions of ocular dominance accurately. The data show that BOLD-based fMRI is sensitive to neuronal activity in cortical columns when using differential techniques, opening up the possibility of mapping specialized populations of neurons in humans that are not accessible to electrophysiological or other methods of invasive mapping.

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