Correlations in blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) MRI signals from separate areas within the human brain have been used as a measure of functional connectivity. Steady-state measures of interregional correlations are particularly useful because they do not depend on the specific design of a task nor on subtracting conditions in a blocked design task. However, the conditions under which such correlations are measured may influence these indices of functional connectivity. The aim of this study was to investigate the influence of task demand on interregional correlations within the motor system. Specifically, tapping rates in audibly paced finger-tapping tasks were controlled and varied between runs in order to observe their effects on interregional correlations to contralateral primary motor cortex (PM). Regions of interest included the supplementary motor area, ipsilateral cerebellum, ipsilateral auditory cortex, and a control region. It was found that tapping rate was a significant factor in determining the mean correlation of some regions to PM, and that correlations measured during tapping in general increased relative to resting state. Furthermore, analysis of the percent of voxels in each region significantly correlated to PM suggested that changes in the mean correlation of that region to PM could be accounted for by changes in the fraction of significantly correlated voxels within a region. This provides insight into the manner in which steady-state correlations are modified in response to different task demands and further evidence that low-frequency fluctuations in BOLD signals reflect functional connectivity.
Copyright 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.