Initially regarded as ‘noise’, spontaneous (intrinsic) activity accounts for a large portion of the brain's metabolic cost. Moreover, it is now widely known that infra-slow (less than 0.1 Hz) spontaneous activity, measured using resting state functional magnetic resonance imaging of the blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) signal, is correlated within functionally defined resting state networks (RSNs). However, despite these advances, the temporal organization of spontaneous BOLD fluctuations has remained elusive. By studying temporal lags in the resting state BOLD signal, we have recently shown that spontaneous BOLD fluctuations consist of remarkably reproducible patterns of whole brain propagation. Embedded in these propagation patterns are unidirectional ‘motifs’ which, in turn, give rise to RSNs. Additionally, propagation patterns are markedly altered as a function of state, whether physiological or pathological. Understanding such propagation patterns will likely yield deeper insights into the role of spontaneous activity in brain function in health and disease.
This article is part of the themed issue ‘Interpreting blood oxygen level-dependent: 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 May 9, 2016.
- © 2016 The Author(s)
Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.