The computational properties of the human brain arise from an intricate interplay between billions of neurons connected in complex networks. However, our ability to study these networks in healthy human brain is limited by the necessity to use non-invasive technologies. This is in contrast to animal models where a rich, detailed view of cellular-level brain function with cell-type-specific molecular identity has become available due to recent advances in microscopic optical imaging and genetics. Thus, a central challenge facing neuroscience today is leveraging these mechanistic insights from animal studies to accurately draw physiological inferences from non-invasive signals in humans. On the essential path towards this goal is the development of a detailed ‘bottom-up’ forward model bridging neuronal activity at the level of cell-type-specific populations to non-invasive imaging signals. The general idea is that specific neuronal cell types have identifiable signatures in the way they drive changes in cerebral blood flow, cerebral metabolic rate of O2 (measurable with quantitative functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging), and electrical currents/potentials (measurable with magneto/electroencephalography). This forward model would then provide the ‘ground truth’ for the development of new tools for tackling the inverse problem—estimation of neuronal activity from multimodal non-invasive imaging data.
This article is part of the themed issue ‘Interpreting BOLD: a dialogue between cognitive and cellular neuroscience’.
One contribution of 15 to a Theo Murphy meeting issue ‘Interpreting BOLD: a dialogue between cognitive and cellular neuroscience’.
- Accepted July 14, 2016.
- © 2016 The Author(s)
Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.