Calibrating BOLD fMRI activations with neurovascular and anatomical constraints

Xin Di, Sridhar S. Kannurpatti, Bart Rypma, Bharat B. Biswal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Scopus citations


Functional magnetic resonance imaging signals, in addition to reflecting neuronal response, also contain physiological variances. These factors may introduce variability into blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) activation results, particularly in different population groups. In this study, we hypothesized that the amplitude as well as the spatial extent of BOLD activation could be improved after minimizing the variance caused by the neurovascular and anatomical factors. Subjects were scanned while they performed finger tapping and digit-symbol substitution tasks (DSSTs). Partial volume and neurovascular effects were estimated on a voxelwise basis using subjects' own gray matter volume (GMV), breath holding (BH), and amplitude of low-frequency fluctuation (ALFF). The results showed that all individual's GMV, BH, and ALFF could significantly predict motor and DSST activations in a voxelwise manner. Whole-brain analyses were conducted to regress out the anatomical and neurovascular information. Differential maps (obtained using t-test) indicated that the adjustment tended to suppress activation in regions that were near vessels such as midline cingulate gyrus, bilateral anterior insula, and posterior cerebellum. These results suggest that voxelwise adjustment using GMV and neurovascular parameters can minimize structural and physiological variances among individuals and be used for quantitative comparisons.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)255-263
Number of pages9
JournalCerebral Cortex
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2013
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


  • BOLD
  • breath hold
  • calibration
  • cognition
  • fMRI
  • hypercapnic scaling
  • motor
  • resting-state


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