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Magn Reson Med. 1997 Jul;38(1):59-65.

Comparison of blood oxygenation and cerebral blood flow effects in fMRI: estimation of relative oxygen consumption change.

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Department of Radiology, University of Minnesota Medical School, Minneapolis 55455, USA.


The most widely-used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) technique is based on the blood oxygenation level dependent (BOLD) effect, which requires at least partial uncoupling between cerebral blood flow (CBF) and oxygen consumption changes during increased mental activity. To compare BOLD and CBF effects during tasking, BOLD and flow-sensitive alternating inversion recovery (FAIR) images were acquired during visual stimulation with red goggles at a frequency of 8 Hz in an interleaved fashion. With the FAIR technique, absolute and relative CBF changes were determined. Relative oxygen consumption changes can be estimated using the BOLD and relative CBF changes. In gray matter areas in the visual cortex, absolute and relative CBF changes in humans during photic stimulation were 31 +/- 11 SD ml/100 g tissue/min and 43 +/- 16 SD % (n = 12), respectively, while the relative oxygen consumption change was close to zero. These findings agree extremely well with previous results using positron emission tomography. The BOLD signal change is not linearly correlated with the relative CBF increase across subjects and negatively correlates with the oxygen consumption change. Caution should be exercised when interpreting the BOLD percent change as a quantitative index of the CBF change, especially in inter-subject comparisons.

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