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Combined fMRI-MRS is a novel method to non-invasively investigate functional activation in the human brain using simultaneous acquisition of hemodynamic and neurochemical measures. The aim of the current study was to quantify neural activity using combined fMRI-MRS at 7T. BOLD-fMRI and semi-LASER localization MRS data were acquired from the visual cortex of 13 participants during short blocks (64s) of flickering checkerboards. We demonstrate a correlation between glutamate and BOLD-fMRI time courses (R=0.381, p=0.031). In addition, we show increases in BOLD-fMRI (1.43±0.17%) and glutamate concentrations (0.15±0.05 I.U., ~2%) during visual stimulation. In contrast, we observed no change in glutamate concentrations in resting state MRS data during sham stimulation periods. Spectral line width changes generated by the BOLD-response were corrected using line broadening. In summary, our results establish the feasibility of concurrent measurements of BOLD-fMRI and neurochemicals using a novel combined fMRI-MRS sequence. Our findings strengthen the link between glutamate and functional activity in the human brain by demonstrating a significant correlation of BOLD-fMRI and glutamate over time, and by showing ~2% glutamate increases during 64s of visual stimulation. Our tool may become useful for studies characterizing functional dynamics between neurochemicals and hemodynamics in health and disease.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





113 - 119


BOLD fMRI, Functional Spectroscopy, Glutamate, Neurochemistry, Visual cortex, Adult, Brain, Brain Mapping, Female, Glutamic Acid, Hemodynamics, Humans, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy, Male