Single-Neuron Activity and Tissue Oxygenation in the Cerebral Cortex

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Science  14 Feb 2003:
Vol. 299, Issue 5609, pp. 1070-1072
DOI: 10.1126/science.1079220

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Blood oxygen level–dependent functional magnetic resonance imaging uses alterations in brain hemodynamics to infer changes in neural activity. Are these hemodynamic changes regulated at a spatial scale capable of resolving functional columns within the cerebral cortex? To address this question, we made simultaneous measurements of tissue oxygenation and single-cell neural activity within the visual cortex. Results showed that increases in neuronal spike rate were accompanied by immediate decreases in tissue oxygenation. We used this decrease in tissue oxygenation to predict the orientation selectivity and ocular dominance of neighboring neurons. Our results establish a coupling between neural activity and oxidative metabolism and suggest that high-resolution functional magnetic resonance imaging may be used to localize neural activity at a columnar level.

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