Neurophysiologic correlates of fMRI in human motor cortex

Dora Hermes, Kai J. Miller, Mariska J. Vansteensel, Erik J. Aarnoutse, Frans S.S. Leijten, Nick F. Ramsey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

114 Scopus citations


The neurophysiological underpinnings of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) are not well understood. To understand the relationship between the fMRI blood oxygen level dependent (BOLD) signal and neurophysiology across large areas of cortex, we compared task related BOLD change during simple finger movement to brain surface electric potentials measured on a similar spatial scale using electrocorticography (ECoG). We found that spectral power increases in high frequencies (65-95 Hz), which have been related to local neuronal activity, colocalized with spatially focal BOLD peaks on primary sensorimotor areas. Independent of high frequencies, decreases in low frequency rhythms (<30 Hz), thought to reflect an aspect of cortical-subcortical interaction, colocalized with weaker BOLD signal increase. A spatial regression analysis showed that there was a direct correlation between the amplitude of the task induced BOLD change on different areas of primary sensorimotor cortex and the amplitude of the high frequency change. Low frequency change explained an additional, different part of the spatial BOLD variance. Together, these spectral power changes explained a significant 36% of the spatial variance in the BOLD signal change (R2 = 0.36). These results suggest that BOLD signal change is largely induced by two separate neurophysiological mechanisms, one being spatially focal neuronal processing and the other spatially distributed low frequency rhythms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1689-1699
Number of pages11
JournalHuman Brain Mapping
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2012


  • ECoG
  • FMRI
  • Motor cortex
  • Neurophysiology
  • Sensorimotor rhythms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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