All that glitters is not BOLD: inconsistencies in functional MRI

V. Renvall, Cathy Nangini, Riitta Hari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)
38 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

The blood oxygenation level dependent (BOLD) functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) signal is a widely-accepted marker of brain activity. The acquisition parameters (APs) of fMRI aim at maximizing the signals related to neuronal activity while minimizing unrelated signal fluctuations. Currently, a diverse set of APs is used to acquire BOLD fMRI data. Here we demonstrate that some fMRI responses are alarmingly inconsistent across APs, ranging from positive to negative, or disappearing entirely, under identical stimulus conditions. These discrepancies, resulting from non-BOLD effects masquerading as BOLD signals, have remained largely unnoticed because studies rarely employ more than one set of APs. We identified and characterized non-BOLD responses in several brain areas, including posterior cingulate cortex and precuneus, as well as AP-dependence of both the signal time courses and of seed-based functional networks, noticing that AP manipulation can inform about the origin of the measured signals.
Original languageEnglish
Article number3920
Pages (from-to)1-8
JournalScientific Reports
Volume4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

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