Spatiotemporal Evolution of Functional Hemodynamic Changes and Their Relationship to Neuronal Activity
Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism
Brain imaging techniques such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) have provided a wealth of information about brain organization, but their ability to investigate fine-scale functional architecture is limited by the spatial specificity of the hemodynamic responses upon which they are based. We investigated the spatiotemporal evolution of hemodynamic responses in rat somatosensory cortex to electrical hindpaw stimulation. We combined the advantages of optical intrinsic signal imaging
... nsic signal imaging and spectroscopy to produce high-resolution two-dimensional maps of functional changes in tissue oxygenation and blood volume. Cerebral blood flow changes were measured with laser-Doppler flowmetry, and simultaneously recorded field potentials allowed comparison between hemodynamic changes and underlying neuronal activity. For the first 2 to 3 secs of activation, hemodynamic responses overlapped in a central parenchymal focus. Over the next several seconds, cerebral blood volume changes propagated retrograde into feeding arterioles, and oxygenation changes anterograde into draining veins. By 5 to 6 secs, responses localized primarily in vascular structures distant from the central focus. The peak spatial extent of the hemodynamic response increased linearly with synaptic activity. This spatial spread might be because of lateral subthreshold activation or passive vascular overspill. These results imply early microvascular changes in volume and oxygenation localize to activated neural columns, and that spatial specificity will be optimal within a 2-to 3-sec window after neuronal activation.