Variability of the BOLD response over time: an examination of within-session differences

Neuroimage. 2006 Sep;32(3):1185-94. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2006.06.003. Epub 2006 Jul 20.


Model-based analysis methods for fMRI data assume a priori knowledge of the time course of the hemodynamic response (HR) in reaction to experimental stimuli or events. This knowledge is incorporated into the hemodynamic response function (HRF), which is a common model of the HR. Although it is already known that the HR varies across individuals and brain regions, few studies have investigated how variations within one session affect the results of statistical analysis using the general linear model (GLM). In this study, we formally tested for a possible variation of the BOLD response during prolonged functional measurement (120 min). To provoke performance of simple visual, motor, and cognitive tasks, we opted for a combination of a variant of the Stroop task and rotating L's. In selected regions of interest, time courses were extracted and compared with regard to mean and maximum amplitudes throughout the time of functional measurement. Additionally, parameter estimates derived from the GLM were tested for differences over time. Although differences between conditions were found to be significant, results did not show significant variance due to a within-factor time. Similarly, a temporal change in the relation between conditions, in terms of an interaction between the within-factor time and the within-factor condition, was not detectable by a repeated measures ANOVA. Similar results were obtained for analysis of mean and maximum amplitudes as well as for the analyses of parameter estimates.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Female
  • Heart Rate / physiology
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / statistics & numerical data*
  • Male
  • Movement / physiology
  • Oxygen / blood*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Time Factors
  • Visual Perception / physiology


  • Oxygen