BOLD matches neuronal activity at the mm scale: A combined 7T fMRI and ECoG study in human sensorimotor cortex

Jeroen C.W. Siero, Dora Hermes, Hans Hoogduin, Peter R. Luijten, Nick F. Ramsey, Natalia Petridou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


High resolution BOLD fMRI has the potential to map activation patterns of small neuronal populations at the scale of cortical columns. However, BOLD fMRI does not measure neuronal activity, but only a correlate thereof, since it measures blood dynamics. To confirm that BOLD activation maps reflect neuronal population activity patterns, a direct comparison with neuro-electrophysiological data from the same cortical patch is necessary. Here, we compare BOLD activation patterns obtained with fMRI at 7. T to electrophysiological patterns obtained with implanted high density electrocorticography (ECoG) grids in the same patch of human sensorimotor cortex, and with similar resolution (1.5. mm). We used high spatially sampled high-frequency broadband (HFB) power from ECoG, which reflects local neuronal population activity. The spatial distribution of 7. T BOLD activation matched the spatial distribution of ECoG HFB-power changes in the covered patch of sensorimotor cortex. BOLD fMRI activation foci were located within 1-3. mm of the HFB-power ECoG foci. Both methods distinguished individual finger movement activation within a 1. cm cortical patch, revealing a topographical medial to lateral layout for the little finger to index to thumb. These findings demonstrate that the BOLD signal at 7. T is strongly correlated with the underlying electrophysiology, and is capable of discriminating patterns of neuronal population activity at a millimeter scale. The results further indicate the utility of 7. T fMRI for investigation of intra-area organization of function and network dynamics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)177-184
Number of pages8
StatePublished - Nov 1 2014


  • 7 tesla
  • Blood-oxygenation-level-dependent (BOLD)
  • FMRI
  • Finger
  • Intracranial electrocorticography (ECoG)
  • Sensorimotor cortex
  • Somatotopy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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