The use of cerebral blood flow as an index of neuronal activity in functional neuroimaging: Experimental and pathophysiological considerations

Willy Gsell, Christelle De Sadeleer, Yannick Marchalant, Eric T. MacKenzie, Pascale Schumann, François Dauphin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations

Abstract

Over recent years, activation studies that have been undertaken using brain imaging techniques, such as functional magnetic resonance imaging, positron emission tomography or near infrared spectroscopy, have greatly improved our knowledge of the functional anatomy of the brain. Nevertheless, activation studies do not directly quantify the variations of synaptic transmission (neuronal activity) but detect it indirectly either through the visualisation of changes in cerebral blood flow, oxidative or glycolytic metabolism (for positron emission tomography), or through the measurement of a global index that is dependent on both cerebral blood flow and oxidative metabolism (for functional magnetic resonance imaging and near infrared spectroscopy). Such approaches are based on the concept of a tight parallelism - termed coupling - between variations in neuronal activity, metabolism and cerebral blood flow. However, several "uncoupled" situations between these parameters have been reported over the last decade through experimental, pharmacological and pathophysiological studies. The aim of this review is to focus on these data that have to be taken into account for the interpretation of the results obtained in activation paradigms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)215-224
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Chemical Neuroanatomy
Volume20
Issue number3-4
DOIs
StatePublished - 2000

Keywords

  • Acetylcholine
  • Activation
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Cerebral metabolism
  • Coupling
  • Nitric oxide

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