Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) is a popular way of measuring brain activity in humans. However, this technique does not measure true neuronal activity but instead it measures changes in oxygen level in the blood, which are connected to the neuronal activity through the neurovascular coupling. In order to investigate the mechanisms of the neurovascular coupling, we have constructed and analysed a new mechanistic model. This model is based on current hypotheses of the mechanisms of the neurovascular coupling, and the model can both describe the estimation data and predict validation data. Unlike previous models of the fMRI signal, our model describes the biological system without predetermening the shape of the signal, and therefore opens up to a new way of analysing fMRI data.

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Mechanistic Mathematical Modeling Tests Hypotheses of the Neurovascular Coupling in fMRI
Karin Lundengård, Gunnar Cedersund, Sebastian Sten, Felix Leong, Alexander Smedberg, Fredrik Elinder, Maria Engström
PLoS Comput Biol 12(6): e1004971. doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1004971