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Scientists Correlate Brain Activity with fMRI Signals

August 04, 2005
By Robert Preidt

THURSDAY, Aug. 4 (HealthDay News) -- The first study to show a link between functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and actual brain cell electrical activity in humans validates fMRI as a neural research and clinical tool, according to researchers in the United States and Israel.

University of California, Los Angeles researchers first recorded the responses of single brain cells in the auditory cortex of two patients wired with intracranial electrodes as they viewed a nine-minute movie clip.

The UCLA team then used this data to accurately predict the fMRI signals collected from 11 different people as they watched the same nine-minute movie clip while in an MRI scanner thousands of miles away in Israel.

The study appears in the Aug. 5 issue of the journal Science.

"Although functional magnetic resonance imaging is widely accepted as an important research tool, the relationship between fMRI signals in the human brain and the underlying neuronal activity has been unclear until now," study co-investigator Dr. Itzhak Fried, professor-in-residence of neurosurgery and psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences at UCLA, said in a prepared statement.

"Our findings help validate the use of fMRI in a wide array of leading-edge neuroscience research in humans. However, additional research will be needed to see whether this striking correlation between fMRI signals and single neuronal activity also exists in brain regions other than the auditory cortex," Fried said.

More information

The American College of Radiology and the Radiological Society of North America have more about fMRI.

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