The task induced blood oxygenation level dependent signal changes observed using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) are critically dependent on the relationship between neuronal activity and hemodynamic response. Therefore, understanding the nature of neurovascular coupling is important when interpreting fMRI signal changes evoked via task. In this study, we used regional homogeneity (ReHo), a measure of local synchronization of the BOLD time series, to investigate whether the similarities of one voxel with the surrounding voxels are a property of neurovascular coupling. FMRI scans were obtained from fourteen subjects during bilateral finger tapping (FTAP), digit-symbol substitution (DSST) and periodic breath holding (BH) paradigm. A resting-state scan was also obtained for each of the subjects for 4min using identical imaging parameters. Inter-voxel correlation analyses were conducted between the resting-state ReHo, resting-state amplitude of low frequency fluctuations (ALFF), BH responses and task activations within the masks related to task activations. There was a reliable mean voxel-wise spatial correlation between ReHo and other neurovascular variables (BH responses and ALFF). We observed a moderate correlation between ReHo and task activations (FTAP: r=0.32; DSST: r=0.22) within the task positive network and a small yet reliable correlation within the default mode network (DSST: r=-0.08). Subsequently, a linear regression was used to estimate the contribution of ReHo, ALFF and BH responses to the task activated voxels. The unique contribution of ReHo was minimal. The results suggest that regional synchrony of the BOLD activity is a property that can explain the variance of neurovascular coupling and task activations; but its contribution to task activations can be accounted for by other neurovascular factors such as the ALFF.
Keywords: BOLD; Breath hold; Regional homogeneity; Resting-state; fMRI.