How well do we understand the neural origins of the fMRI BOLD signal?

Trends Neurosci. 2002 Jan;25(1):27-31. doi: 10.1016/s0166-2236(00)01995-0.


The successful use of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) as a way of visualizing cortical function depends largely on the important relationships between the signal observed and the underlying neuronal activity that it is believed to represent. Currently, a relatively direct correlation seems to be favoured between fMRI signals and population synaptic activity (including inhibitory and excitatory activity), with a secondary and potentially more variable correlation with cellular action potentials.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Animals
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Cerebrovascular Circulation / physiology*
  • Excitatory Postsynaptic Potentials / physiology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Neural Inhibition / physiology
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology*