Detection of synchronous brain activity in white matter tracts at rest and under functional loading.

Ding Z, Huang Y, Bailey SK, Gao Y, Cutting LE, Rogers BP, Newton AT, Gore JC
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2018 115 (3): 595-600

PMID: 29282320 · PMCID: PMC5776967 · DOI:10.1073/pnas.1711567115

Functional MRI based on blood oxygenation level-dependent (BOLD) contrast is well established as a neuroimaging technique for detecting neural activity in the cortex of the human brain. While detection and characterization of BOLD signals, as well as their electrophysiological and hemodynamic/metabolic origins, have been extensively studied in gray matter (GM), the detection and interpretation of BOLD signals in white matter (WM) remain controversial. We have previously observed that BOLD signals in a resting state reveal structure-specific anisotropic temporal correlations in WM and that external stimuli alter these correlations and permit visualization of task-specific fiber pathways, suggesting variations in WM BOLD signals are related to neural activity. In this study, we provide further strong evidence that BOLD signals in WM reflect neural activities both in a resting state and under functional loading. We demonstrate that BOLD signal waveforms in stimulus-relevant WM pathways are synchronous with the applied stimuli but with various degrees of time delay and that signals in WM pathways exhibit clear task specificity. Furthermore, resting-state signal fluctuations in WM tracts show significant correlations with specific parcellated GM volumes. These observations support the notion that neural activities are encoded in WM circuits similarly to cortical responses.

MeSH Terms (10)

Adult Female Gray Matter Humans Magnetic Resonance Imaging Male Oxygen Rest White Matter Young Adult

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