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Blood-oxygenation-level-dependent (BOLD) signals in magnetic resonance imaging indirectly reflect neural activity in cortex, but they are also detectable in white matter (WM). BOLD signals in WM exhibit strong correlations with those in gray matter (GM) in a resting state, but their interpretation and relationship to GM activity in a task are unclear. We performed a parametric visual object recognition task designed to modulate the BOLD signal response in GM regions engaged in higher order visual processing, and measured corresponding changes in specific WM tracts. Human faces embedded in different levels of random noise have previously been shown to produce graded changes in BOLD activation in for example, the fusiform gyrus, as well as in electrophysiological (N170) evoked potentials. The magnitudes of BOLD responses in both GM regions and selected WM tracts varied monotonically with the stimulus strength (noise level). In addition, the magnitudes and temporal profiles of signals in GM and WM regions involved in the task coupled strongly across different task parameters. These findings reveal the network of WM tracts engaged in object (face) recognition and confirm that WM BOLD signals may be directly affected by neural activity in GM regions to which they connect. © The Author(s) 2020. Published by Oxford University Press.


Muwei Li, Zhaohua Ding, John C Gore. Identification of White Matter Networks Engaged in Object (Face) Recognition Showing Differential Responses to Modulated Stimulus Strength. Cerebral cortex communications. 2020;1(1):tgaa067

PMID: 33134929

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