Relation between functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and single neuron, local field potential (LFP) and electrocorticography (ECoG) activity in human cortex

Front Hum Neurosci. 2013 Feb 20:7:34. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2013.00034. eCollection 2013.


The relation between changes in the blood oxygen dependent metabolic changes imaged by functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and neural events directly recorded from human cortex from single neurons, local field potentials (LFPs) and electrocorticogram (ECoG) is critically reviewed, based on the published literature including findings from the authors' laboratories. All these data are from special populations, usually patients with medically refractory epilepsy, as this provides the major opportunity for direct cortical neuronal recording in humans. For LFP and ECoG changes are often sought in different frequency bands, for single neurons in frequency of action potentials. Most fMRI studies address issues of functional localization. The relation of those findings to localized changes in neuronal recordings in humans has been established in several ways. Only a few studies have directly compared changes in activity from the same sites in the same individual, using the same behavioral measure. More often the comparison has been between fMRI and electrophysiologic changes in populations recorded from the same functional anatomic system as defined by lesion effects; in a few studies those systems have been defined by fMRI changes such as the "default" network. The fMRI-electrophysiologic relationships have been evaluated empirically by colocalization of significant changes, and by quantitative analyses, often multiple linear regression. There is some evidence that the fMRI-electrophysiology relationships differ in different cortical areas, particularly primary motor and sensory cortices compared to association cortex, but also within areas of association cortex. Although crucial for interpretation of fMRI changes as reflecting neural activity in human cortex, controversy remains as to these relationships. Supported by: Dutch Technology Foundation and University of Utrecht Grant UGT7685, ERC-Advanced grant 320708 (NR) and NIH grant NS065186 (JO).

Keywords: electrocorticogram; fMRI BOLD; human cortex; local field potentials; single neurons.