Cerebral hemodynamic responses to brief periods of neural activity are delayed and dispersed in time. The specific shape of these responses is of some importance to the design and analysis of blood oxygenation level-dependent (BOLD), functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) experiments. Using fMRI scanning, we examine here the characteristics and variability of hemodynamic responses from the central sulcus in human subjects during an event-related, simple reaction time task. Specifically, we determine the contribution of subject, day, and scanning session (within a day) to variability in the shape of evoked hemodynamic response. We find that while there is significant and substantial variability in the shape of responses collected across subjects, responses collected during multiple scans within a single subject are less variable. The results are discussed in terms of the impact of response variability upon sensitivity and specificity of analyses of event-related fMRI designs.
Copyright 1998 Academic Press.