Neural activity-induced modulation of BOLD poststimulus undershoot independent of the positive signal

Sepideh Sadaghiani, Kâmil Uǧurbil, Kâmil Uludaǧ

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Despite intense research on the blood oxygenation level-dependent (BOLD) signal underlying functional magnetic resonance imaging, our understanding of its physiological basis is far from complete. In this study, it was investigated whether the so-called poststimulus BOLD signal undershoot is solely a passive vascular effect or actively induced by neural responses. Prolonged static and flickering black-white checkerboard stimulation with isoluminant grey screen as baseline condition were employed on eight human subjects. Within the same region of interest, the positive BOLD time courses for static and flickering stimuli were identical over the entire stimulus duration. In contrast, the static stimuli exhibited no poststimulus BOLD signal undershoot, whereas the flickering stimuli caused a strong BOLD poststimulus undershoot. To ease the interpretation, we performed an additional study measuring both BOLD signal and cerebral blood flow (CBF) using arterial spin labeling. Also for CBF, a difference in the poststimulus period was found for the two stimuli. Thus, a passive blood volume effect as the only contributor to the poststimulus undershoot comes short in explaining the BOLD poststimulus undershoot phenomenon for this particular experiment. Rather, an additional active neuronal activation or deactivation can strongly modulate the BOLD poststimulus behavior. In summary, the poststimulus time course of BOLD signal could potentially be used to differentiate neuronal activity patterns that are otherwise indistinguishable using the positive evoked response.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1030-1038
Number of pages9
JournalMagnetic Resonance Imaging
Issue number8
StatePublished - Oct 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Arterial spin labeling
  • BOLD signal
  • CBF
  • Post-stimulus undershoot
  • fMRI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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