Propagation of BOLD Activity Reveals Task-dependent Directed Interactions Across Human Visual Cortex

Nicolás Gravel*, Remco J Renken, Ben M Harvey, Gustavo Deco, Frans W Cornelissen, Matthieu Gilson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


It has recently been shown that large-scale propagation of blood-oxygen-level-dependent (BOLD) activity is constrained by anatomical connections and reflects transitions between behavioral states. It remains to be seen, however, if the propagation of BOLD activity can also relate to the brain's anatomical structure at a more local scale. Here, we hypothesized that BOLD propagation reflects structured neuronal activity across early visual field maps. To explore this hypothesis, we characterize the propagation of BOLD activity across V1, V2, and V3 using a modeling approach that aims to disentangle the contributions of local activity and directed interactions in shaping BOLD propagation. It does so by estimating the effective connectivity (EC) and the excitability of a noise-diffusion network to reproduce the spatiotemporal covariance structure of the data. We apply our approach to 7T fMRI recordings acquired during resting state (RS) and visual field mapping (VFM). Our results reveal different EC interactions and changes in cortical excitability in RS and VFM, and point to a reconfiguration of feedforward and feedback interactions across the visual system. We conclude that the propagation of BOLD activity has functional relevance, as it reveals directed interactions and changes in cortical excitability in a task-dependent manner.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberbhaa165
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalCerebral Cortex
Issue number11
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 24-Jun-2020

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