Understanding variability in the BOLD signal and why it matters for aging

Brain Imaging Behav. 2014 Jun;8(2):274-83. doi: 10.1007/s11682-013-9253-0.


Recent work in neuroscience supports the idea that variability in brain function is necessary for optimal brain responsivity to a changing environment. In this review, we discuss a series of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies in younger and older adults to assess age-related differences in variability of the fMRI signal. This work shows that moment-to-moment brain signal variability represents an important "signal" within what is typically considered measurement-related "noise" in fMRI. This accumulation of evidence suggests that moving beyond the mean will provide a complementary window into aging-related neural processes.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aging / physiology*
  • Brain / blood supply
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Cerebrovascular Circulation / physiology*
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Oxygen / metabolism*


  • Oxygen