An orderly sequence of autonomic and neural events at transient arousal changes

Yameng Gu, Feng Han, Lucas E. Sainburg, Margeaux M. Schade, Orfeu M. Buxton, Jeff H. Duyn, Xiao Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rsfMRI) allows the study of functional brain connectivity based on spatially structured variations in neuronal activity. Proper evaluation of connectivity requires removal of non-neural contributions to the fMRI signal, in particular hemodynamic changes associated with autonomic variability. Regression analysis based on autonomic indicator signals has been used for this purpose, but may be inadequate if neuronal and autonomic activities covary. To investigate this potential co-variation, we performed rsfMRI experiments while concurrently acquiring electroencephalography (EEG) and autonomic indicator signals, including heart rate, respiratory depth, and peripheral vascular tone. We identified a recurrent and systematic spatiotemporal pattern of fMRI (named as fMRI cascade), which features brief signal reductions in salience and default-mode networks and the thalamus, followed by a biphasic global change with a sensory-motor dominance. This fMRI cascade, which was mostly observed during eyes-closed condition, was accompanied by large EEG and autonomic changes indicative of arousal modulations. Importantly, the removal of the fMRI cascade dynamics from rsfMRI diminished its correlations with various signals. These results suggest that the rsfMRI correlations with various physiological and neural signals are not independent but arise, at least partly, from the fMRI cascades and associated neural and physiological changes at arousal modulations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number119720
StatePublished - Dec 1 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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