Examining the relationship between BOLD fMRI and infraslow EEG signals in the resting human brain
Grooms, Joshua Koehler
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Resting state functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) is currently at the forefront of research on cognition and the brain’s large-scale organization. Patterns of hemodynamic activity that it records have been strongly linked to certain behaviors and cognitive pathologies. These signals are widely assumed to reflect local neuronal activity but our understanding of the exact relationship between them remains incomplete. Researchers often address this using multimodal approaches, pairing fMRI signals with known measures of neuronal activity such as electroencephalography (EEG). It has long been thought that infraslow (< 0.1 Hz) fMRI signals, which have become so important to the study of brain function, might have a direct electrophysiological counterpart. If true, EEG could be positioned as a low-cost alternative to fMRI when fMRI is impractical and therefore could also become much more influential in the study of functional brain networks. Previous works have produced indirect support for the fMRI-EEG relationship, but until recently the hypothesized link between them had not been tested in resting humans. The objective of this study was to investigate and characterize their relationship by simultaneously recording infraslow fMRI and EEG signals in resting human adults. We present evidence strongly supporting their link by demonstrating significant stationary and dynamic correlations between the two signal types. Moreover, functional brain networks appear to be a fundamental unit of this coupling. We conclude that infraslow electrophysiology is likely playing an important role in the dynamic configuration of the resting state brain networks that are well-known to fMRI research. Our results provide new insights into the neuronal underpinnings of hemodynamic activity and a foundational point on which the use of infraslow EEG in functional connectivity studies can be based.