Deciphering the direction of information flow is critical to understand the brain. Data from non-human primate histology shows that connections between lower to higher areas (e.g. retina→V1), and between higher to lower areas (e.g. V1←V2) can be dissociated based upon the distribution of afferent synapses at the laminar level. Ultra-high field scanners opened up the possibility to image brain structure and function at an unprecedented level of detail. Taking advantage of the increased spatial resolution available, it could theoretically be possible to disentangle activity from different cortical depths from human cerebral cortex, separately studying different compartments across depth.
Here we use half-millimeter human functional and structural magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI, MRI) to derive laminar profiles in early visual cortex using a paradigm known to elicit two separate responses originating from an excitatory and a suppressive source, avoiding any contamination due to blood-stealing. We report the shape of laminar blood level oxygenation level dependent (BOLD) profiles from the excitatory and suppressive conditions. We analyse positive and negative %BOLD laminar profiles with respect to the dominating linear trend towards the pial surface, a confounding feature of gradient echo BOLD fMRI, and examine the correspondence with the anatomical landmark of input-related signals in primary visual cortex, the stria of Gennari.