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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1998 Feb 17;95(4):1834-9.

Calibrated functional MRI: mapping the dynamics of oxidative metabolism.

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Massachusetts General Hospital NMR Center, Charlestown, MA 02119, USA.


MRI was extended to the measurement of changes in oxidative metabolism in the normal human during functionally induced changes in cellular activity. A noninvasive MRI method that is model-independent calibrates the blood oxygen level dependent (BOLD) signal of functional MRI (fMRI) against perfusion-sensitive MRI, using carbon dioxide breathing as a physiological reference standard. This calibration procedure provides a regional measurement of the expected sensitivity of the fMRI BOLD signal to changes in the cellular activity of the brain. Maps of the BOLD signal calibration factor showed regional heterogeneity, indicating that the magnitude of functionally induced changes in the BOLD signal will be dependent on both the local change in blood flow and the local baseline physiology of the cerebral cortex. BOLD signal magnitude is shown to be reduced by 32% from its expected level by the action of oxygen metabolism. The calibrated fMRI technique was applied to stimulation of the human visual cortex with an alternating radial checkerboard pattern. With this stimulus oxygen consumption increased 16% whereas blood flow increased 45%. Although this result is consistent with previous findings of a significant difference between the increase in blood flow and oxygen consumption, it does indicate clearly that oxidative metabolism is a significant component of the metabolic response of the brain to functionally induced changes in cellular activity.

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