Blood oxygen contrast-functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) signals are a convolution of neural and vascular components. Several studies indicate that task-related (T-fMRI) or resting-state (R-fMRI) responses linearly relate to hypercapnic task responses. Based on the linearity of R-fMRI and T-fMRI with hypercapnia demonstrated by different groups using different study designs, we hypothesized that R-fMRI and T-fMRI signals are governed by a common physiological mechanism and that resting-state fluctuation of amplitude (RSFA) should be linearly related to T-fMRI responses. We tested this prediction in a group of healthy younger humans where R-fMRI, T-fMRI, and hypercapnic (breath hold, BH) task measures were obtained form the same scan session during resting state and during performance of motor and BH tasks. Within individual subjects, significant linear correlations were observed between motor and BH task responses across voxels. When averaged over the whole brain, the subject-wise correlation between the motor and BH tasks showed a similar linear relationship within the group. Likewise, a significant linear correlation was observed between motor-task activity and RSFA across voxels and subjects. The linear rest-task (R-T) relationship between motor activity and RSFA suggested that R-fMRI and T-fMRI responses are governed by similar physiological mechanisms. A practical use of the R-T relationship is its potential to estimate T-fMRI responses in special populations unable to perform tasks during fMRI scanning. Using the R-T relationship determined from the first group of 12 healthy subjects, we predicted the T-fMRI responses in a second group of 7 healthy subjects. RSFA in both the lower and higher frequency ranges robustly predicted the magnitude of T-fMRI responses at the subject and voxel levels. We propose that T-fMRI responses are reliably predictable to the voxel level in situations where only R-fMRI measures are possible, and may be useful for assessing neural activity in task non-compliant clinical populations.
Keywords: BOLD; breath hold; fMRI; hypercapnia; motor cortex; prediction; resting-state fluctuations; vascular.