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Does neural input or processing play a greater role in the magnitude of neuroimaging signals?

Harris, S., Jones, M., Zheng, Y. ORCID: and Berwick, J. (2010) Does neural input or processing play a greater role in the magnitude of neuroimaging signals? Frontiers in Neuroenergetics, 2. pp. 1-7. ISSN 1662-6427

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To link to this item DOI: 10.3389/fnene.2010.00015


An important constraint on how hemodynamic neuroimaging signals such as fMRI can be interpreted in terms of the underlying evoked activity is an understanding of neurovascular coupling mechanisms that actually generate hemodynamic responses. The predominant view at present is that the hemodynamic response is most correlated with synaptic input and subsequent neural processing rather than spiking output. It is still not clear whether input or processing is more important in the generation of hemodynamics responses. In order to investigate this we measured the hemodynamic and neural responses to electrical whisker pad stimuli in rat whisker barrel somatosensory cortex both before and after the local cortical injections of the GABAA agonist muscimol. Muscimol would not be expected to affect the thalamocortical input into the cortex but would inhibit subsequent intra-cortical processing. Pre-muscimol infusion whisker stimuli elicited the expected neural and accompanying hemodynamic responses to that reported previously. Following infusion of muscimol, although the temporal profile of neural responses to each pulse of the stimulus train was similar, the average response was reduced in magnitude by ∼79% compared to that elicited pre-infusion. The whisker-evoked hemodynamic responses were reduced by a commensurate magnitude suggesting that, although the neurovascular coupling relationships were similar for synaptic input as well as for cortical processing, the magnitude of the overall response is dominated by processing rather than from that produced from the thalamocortical input alone.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Biological Sciences > Department of Bio-Engineering
ID Code:33478
Uncontrolled Keywords:neurovascular coupling; synaptic activity; muscimol; barrel cortex; whisker
Publisher:Frontiers Research Foundation
Publisher Statement:Copyright: © 2010 Harris, Jones, Zheng and Berwick. This is an open-access article subject to an exclusive license agreement between the authors and the Frontiers Research Foundation, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original authors and source are credited.

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