Studies are described which are intended to improve our understanding of the primary measurements made in non-invasive neural imaging. The blood oxygenation level-dependent signal used in functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) reflects changes in deoxygenated haemoglobin. Tissue oxygen concentration, along with blood flow, changes during neural activation. Therefore, measurements of tissue oxygen together with the use of a neural sensor can provide direct estimates of neural–metabolic interactions. We have used this relationship in a series of studies in which a neural microelectrode is combined with an oxygen micro-sensor to make simultaneous co-localized measurements in the central visual pathway. Oxygen responses are typically biphasic with small initial dips followed by large secondary peaks during neural activation. By the use of established visual response characteristics, we have determined that the oxygen initial dip provides a better estimate of local neural function than the positive peak. This contrasts sharply with fMRI for which the initial dip is unreliable. To extend these studies, we have examined the relationship between the primary metabolic agents, glucose and lactate, and associated neural activity. For this work, we also use a Doppler technique to measure cerebral blood flow (CBF) together with neural activity. Results show consistent synchronously timed changes such that increases in neural activity are accompanied by decreases in glucose and simultaneous increases in lactate. Measurements of CBF show clear delays with respect to neural response. This is consistent with a slight delay in blood flow with respect to oxygen delivery during neural activation.
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 April 18, 2016.
- © 2016 The Author(s)
Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.