Non-neural BOLD variability in block and event-related paradigms

Sridhar S. Kannurpatti, Michael A. Motes, Bart Rypma, Bharat B. Biswal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Block and event-related stimulus designs are typically used in fMRI studies depending on the importance of detection power or estimation efficiency. The extent of vascular contribution to variability in block and event-related fMRI-BOLD response is not known. With scaling, the extent of vascular variability in the fMRI-BOLD response during block and event-related design tasks was investigated. Blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) contrast data from healthy volunteers performing a block design motor task and an event-related memory task requiring performance of a motor response were analyzed from the regions of interest (ROIs) surrounding the primary and supplementary motor cortices. Average BOLD signal change was significantly larger during the block design compared to the event-related design. In each subject, BOLD signal change across voxels in the ROIs had higher variation during the block design task compared to the event-related design task. Scaling using the resting state fluctuation of amplitude (RSFA) and breath-hold (BH), which minimizes BOLD variation due to vascular origins, reduced the within-subject BOLD variability in every subject during both tasks but significantly reduced BOLD variability across subjects only during the block design task. The strong non-neural source of intra- and intersubject variability of BOLD response during the block design compared to event-related task indicates that study designs optimizing for statistical power through enhancement of the BOLD contrast (for, e.g., block design) can be affected by enhancement of non-neural sources of BOLD variability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)140-146
Number of pages7
JournalMagnetic Resonance Imaging
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2011
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biophysics
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


  • Block design
  • Breath-hold
  • Event related
  • FMRI
  • Hypercapnia
  • Motor cortex
  • Resting state
  • Scaling
  • Vascular


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