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Presented By: Functional MRI Lab

Functional MRI Speaker Series

with Dr. Molly Bright

Molly Bright, Ph.D. Molly Bright, Ph.D.
Molly Bright, Ph.D.
Title: Adding Vascular Insight to the fMRI Experiment

Abstract: In fMRI data, numerous physiologic sources contribute to the measured signals. We typically aim to model and remove these effects (e.g., heart rate, breathing changes) during data preprocessing, which is itself an active and evolving area of research. However, we can also intentionally amplify physiological processes and characterize their effects in our data. Our lab capitalizes on the strong relationship between respiration and blood flow, using breathing challenges to modulate blood gases and evoke systemic vasodilation that can be characterized throughout the central nervous system using fMRI. With practical adjustments, typical fMRI experiments can simultaneously generate metrics of neural and vascular function, making fMRI a truly multiparametric imaging modality. Vascular insights complement our assessment of neural activity and connectivity in fMRI data, and allow for new exploration into the coupling between neural and vascular physiology. This is extremely valuable information when applying fMRI in a range of neurological pathologies where the vasculature is often implicated in disease and symptom progression. Furthermore, we reveal long-distance coordination of respiratory-driven vasodilation across the brain, which demonstrates network-like organization that mirrors established functional (neural) networks, offering the intriguing potential for "vascular networks" that directly contribute to or interact with brain network function. Finally, we are beginning to adapt these methods to examine neural and vascular function in the cervical spinal cord, with promising results.

*There will be light refreshments.

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