Targeting the functional properties of cortical neurons using fMR-adaptation

Neuroimage. 2012 Aug 15;62(2):1163-9. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2012.01.002. Epub 2012 Jan 8.


The introduction of functional brain imaging based on BOLD-fMRI, twenty years ago, has revolutionized the field of human brain research. However, right from its inception it became clear that the BOLD signal suffers from a serious limitation--it reflects the averaged activity of large neuronal populations and hence can not, on its own, index the functional properties of individual neurons. The method of fMR-adaptation (also termed repetition suppression) was developed to circumvent this problem and use the BOLD signal to assess functional specializations at the individual neuron level. The approach is based on the tendency of cortical neurons to reduce their activity upon stimulus repetition. By examining the sensitivity of the adaptation effect to stimulus manipulation, insight can be gained about the invariant and selective properties of neuronal networks. It has been argued that the adaptation effect occurs at the level of synaptic inputs--and hence may be mislocalized. However, it is critical to consider the adaptation effect in the context of the cortical network architecture. This cortical anatomical organization, dominated by short range intrinsic connections, ensures that the fMR-adaptation largely reflects the response profile of the neurons located within the imaged voxel proper.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological / physiology*
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping / history
  • Brain Mapping / methods*
  • History, 20th Century
  • History, 21st Century
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / history
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Neurons / physiology*