Tracking brain arousal fluctuations with fMRI

Catie Chang, David A. Leopold, Marieke Louise Schölvinck, Hendrik Mandelkow, Dante Picchioni, Xiao Liu, Frank Q. Ye, Janita N. Turchi, Jeff H. Duyn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

200 Scopus citations


Changes in brain activity accompanying shifts in vigilance and arousal can interfere with the study of other intrinsic and task-evoked characteristics of brain function. However, the difficulty of tracking and modeling the arousal state during functional MRI (fMRI) typically precludes the assessment of arousal-dependent influences on fMRI signals. Here we combine fMRI, electrophysiology, and the monitoring of eyelid behavior to demonstrate an approach for tracking continuous variations in arousal level from fMRI data. We first characterize the spatial distribution of fMRI signal fluctuations that track a measure of behavioral arousal; taking this pattern as a template, and using the local field potential as a simultaneous and independent measure of cortical activity, we observe that the timevarying expression level of this template in fMRI data provides a close approximation of electrophysiological arousal. We discuss the potential benefit of these findings for increasing the sensitivity of fMRI as a cognitive and clinical biomarker.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4518-4523
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number16
StatePublished - Apr 19 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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