Resting-state fMRI is widely used to study brain function and connectivity. However, interpreting patterns of resting state (RS) fMRI activity remains challenging as they may arise from different neuronal mechanisms than those triggered by exogenous events. Currently, this limits the use of RS-fMRI for understanding cortical function in health and disease. Here, we examine the phase synchronization (PS) properties of blood-oxygen level dependent (BOLD) signals obtained during visual field mapping (VFM) and RS with 7T fMRI. This data-driven approach exploits spatiotemporal covariations in the phase of BOLD recordings to establish the presence of clusters of synchronized activity. We find that, in both VFM and RS data, selecting the most synchronized neighboring recording sites identifies spatially localized PS clusters that follow the topographic organization of the visual cortex. However, in activity obtained during VFM, PS is spatially more extensive than in RS activity, likely reflecting stimulus-driven interactions between local responses. Nevertheless, the similarity of the PS clusters obtained for RS and stimulus-driven fMRI suggest that they share a common neuroanatomical origin. Our finding justifies and facilitates direct comparison of RS and stimulus-evoked activity. (C) 2017 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.