Coupling of cerebral blood flow and oxygen metabolism is conserved for chromatic and luminance stimuli in human visual cortex

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The ratio of the changes in cerebral blood flow (CBF) and cerebral metabolic rate of oxygen (CMRO2) during brain activation is a critical determinant of the magnitude of the blood oxygenation level dependent (BOLD) response measured with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Cytochrome oxidase (CO), a key component of oxidative metabolism in the mitochondria, is non-uniformly distributed in visual area V1 in distinct blob and interblob regions, suggesting significant spatial variation in the capacity for oxygen metabolism. The goal of this study was to test whether CBF/CMRO2 coupling differed when these subpopulations of neurons were preferentially stimulated, using chromatic and luminance stimuli to preferentially stimulate either the blob or interblob regions. A dual-echo spiral arterial spin labeling (ASL) technique was used to measure CBF and BOLD responses simultaneously in 7 healthy human subjects. When the stimulus contrast levels were adjusted to evoke similar CBF responses (mean 65.4% ± 19.0% and 64.6% ± 19.9%, respectively for chromatic and luminance contrast), the BOLD responses were remarkably similar (1.57% ± 0.39% and 1.59% ± 0.35%) for both types of stimuli. We conclude that CBF–CMRO2 coupling is conserved for the chromatic and luminance stimuli used, suggesting a consistent coupling for blob and inter-blob neuronal populations despite the difference in CO concentration.


▸ BOLD response is sensitive to blood flow/oxygen metabolism coupling. ▸ Variability of flow/metabolism coupling in human primary visual cortex was tested. ▸ Chromatic and luminance stimuli to excite cytochrome oxidase blob and interblob areas ▸ For stimuli tuned for similar flow response, no detected difference in BOLD response

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