fMRI hemodynamics accurately reflects neuronal timing in the human brain measured by MEG

Neuroimage. 2013 Sep;78:372-84. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2013.04.017. Epub 2013 Apr 13.


Neuronal activation sequence information is essential for understanding brain functions. Extracting such timing information from blood oxygenation level dependent (BOLD) fMRI is confounded by interregional neurovascular differences and poorly understood relations between BOLD and electrophysiological response delays. Here, we recorded whole-head BOLD fMRI at 100 ms resolution and magnetoencephalography (MEG) during a visuomotor reaction-time task. Both methods detected the same activation sequence across five regions, from visual towards motor cortices, with linearly correlated interregional BOLD and MEG response delays. The smallest significant interregional BOLD delay was 100 ms; all delays ≥400 ms were significant. Switching the order of external events reversed the sequence of BOLD activations, indicating that interregional neurovascular differences did not confound the results. This may open new avenues for using fMRI to follow rapid activation sequences in the brain.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Female
  • Hemodynamics / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Magnetoencephalography
  • Male
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Reaction Time / physiology*
  • Young Adult