Volumetric Spatial Correlations of Neurovascular Coupling Studied using Single Pulse Opto-fMRI

Isabel N Christie, Jack A. Wells, Sergey Kasparov, Alexander V. Gourine, Mark F. Lythgoe*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
478 Downloads (Pure)


Neurovascular coupling describes the link between neuronal activity and cerebral blood flow. This relationship has been the subject of intense scrutiny, with most previous work seeking to understand temporal correlations that describe neurovascular coupling. However, to date, the study of spatial correlations has been limited to two-dimensional mapping of neuronal or vascular derived signals emanating from the brain's surface, using optical imaging techniques. Here, we investigate spatial correlations of neurovascular coupling in three dimensions, by applying a single 10 ms pulse of light to trigger optogenetic activation of cortical neurons transduced to express channelrhodopsin2, with concurrent fMRI. We estimated the spatial extent of increased neuronal activity using a model that takes into the account the scattering and absorption of blue light in brain tissue together with the relative density of channelrhodopsin2 expression across cortical layers. This method allows precise modulation of the volume of activated tissue in the cerebral cortex with concurrent three-dimensional mapping of functional hyperemia. Single pulse opto-fMRI minimizes adaptation, avoids heating artefacts and enables confined recruitment of the neuronal activity. Using this novel method, we present evidence for direct proportionality of volumetric spatial neurovascular coupling in the cerebral cortex.
Original languageEnglish
Article number41583
Number of pages8
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 8 Feb 2017


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