Mechanical restriction of intracortical vessel dilation by brain tissue sculpts the hemodynamic response

Yu Rong Gao, Stephanie E. Greene, Patrick J. Drew

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Understanding the spatial dynamics of dilation in the cerebral vasculature is essential for deciphering the vascular basis of hemodynamic signals in the brain. We used two-photon microscopy to image neural activity and vascular dynamics in the somatosensory cortex of awake behaving mice during voluntary locomotion. Arterial dilations within the histologically-defined forelimb/hindlimb (FL/HL) representation were larger than arterial dilations in the somatosensory cortex immediately outside the FL/HL representation, demonstrating that the vascular response during natural behaviors was spatially localized. Surprisingly, we found that locomotion drove dilations in surface vessels that were nearly three times the amplitude of intracortical vessel dilations. The smaller dilations of the intracortical arterioles were not due to saturation of dilation. Anatomical imaging revealed that, unlike surface vessels, intracortical vessels were tightly enclosed by brain tissue. A mathematical model showed that mechanical restriction by the brain tissue surrounding intracortical vessels could account for the reduced amplitude of intracortical vessel dilation relative to surface vessels. Thus, under normal conditions, the mechanical properties of the brain may play an important role in sculpting the laminar differences of hemodynamic responses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)162-176
Number of pages15
StatePublished - Jul 5 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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