From EEG to BOLD: brain mapping and estimating transfer functions in simultaneous EEG-fMRI acquisitions

Neuroimage. 2010 May 1;50(4):1416-26. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2010.01.075. Epub 2010 Jan 29.


Simultaneous acquisition of electroencephalography (EEG) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) aims to disentangle the description of brain processes by exploiting the advantages of each technique. Most studies in this field focus on exploring the relationships between fMRI signals and the power spectrum at some specific frequency bands (alpha, beta, etc.). On the other hand, brain mapping of EEG signals (e.g., interictal spikes in epileptic patients) usually assumes an haemodynamic response function for a parametric analysis applying the GLM, as a rough approximation. The integration of the information provided by the high spatial resolution of MR images and the high temporal resolution of EEG may be improved by referencing them by transfer functions, which allows the identification of neural driven areas without strong assumptions about haemodynamic response shapes or brain haemodynamic's homogeneity. The difference on sampling rate is the first obstacle for a full integration of EEG and fMRI information. Moreover, a parametric specification of a function representing the commonalities of both signals is not established. In this study, we introduce a new data-driven method for estimating the transfer function from EEG signal to fMRI signal at EEG sampling rate. This approach avoids EEG subsampling to fMRI time resolution and naturally provides a test for EEG predictive power over BOLD signal fluctuations, in a well-established statistical framework. We illustrate this concept in resting state (eyes closed) and visual simultaneous fMRI-EEG experiments. The results point out that it is possible to predict the BOLD fluctuations in occipital cortex by using EEG measurements.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Algorithms
  • Alpha Rhythm
  • Brain / blood supply
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping / methods*
  • Cerebrovascular Circulation / physiology
  • Computer Simulation
  • Electroencephalography / methods*
  • Humans
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional
  • Linear Models
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Occipital Lobe / blood supply
  • Occipital Lobe / physiology
  • Oxygen / blood
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Rest
  • Signal Processing, Computer-Assisted*
  • Visual Perception / physiology
  • Young Adult


  • Oxygen