For two decades, fMRI has been used as a measure of various neurological, cognitive and behavioral functions despite its unconfirmed correlation of brain hemodynamics to specific brain activity. Using light to turn specific neural circuits on and off, optogenetics researchers at Stanford have found that fMRI does indeed map the global effects of local neuronal activity. Published in this week’s online Nature, the study empirically supports the widely-used fMRI BOLD (blood oxygen level dependent) signal, and introduces a novel integrated technology, called optogenetic fMRI (ofMRI), as a potent tool that may be suitable for functional circuit analysis as well as global phenotyping of dysfunctional circuitry.
Press release: Stanford-led team validates, extends fMRI research on brain activity
Abstract in Nature: Global and local fMRI signals driven by neurons defined optogenetically by type and wiring