Determination of individual stimulus--response curves in the visual cortex

Hum Brain Mapp. 2002 Dec;17(4):244-50. doi: 10.1002/hbm.10067.


Activation in the visual cortex is typically studied using group average changes in an on-off paradigm for a single flicker frequency. We used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to characterize the stimulus-response curve in the visual cortex as a function of flicker frequency in individual subjects, using LED goggles with 17 frequency steps between 0 and 30 Hz. Ten healthy young individuals were studied on two different occasions (mean interval; 22 days). In all but one subject, a third-order polynomial curve could be fitted to the data. From the response curve we calculated the peak response (the frequency where the response amplitude was maximal), the percentage change (relative difference) of the response amplitudes between 8 Hz and the peak frequency, and the average slope of response (towards the peak). On both occasions we could determine a peak response for each subject with small within-subject variability. The average absolute difference in peak response between both sessions was 1.37 Hz (range, 0.2-4.3 Hz), indicating that the peak frequency is rather stable for a given individual. In conclusion, our study illustrates the ability of fMRI to examine the stimulus-response curve in individual subjects in the visual cortex. Based on our findings, the peak response and the slope of response seem highly reproducible within subjects. A similar analysis of the stimulus-response curve may be applicable to other types of stimuli.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Photic Stimulation / methods*
  • Visual Cortex / physiology*