Multi-regional investigation of the relationship between functional MRI blood oxygenation level dependent (BOLD) activation and GABA concentration. Academic Article uri icon


  • Several recent studies have reported an inter-individual correlation between regional GABA concentration, as measured by MRS, and the amplitude of the functional blood oxygenation level dependent (BOLD) response in the same region. In this study, we set out to investigate whether this coupling generalizes across cortex. In 18 healthy participants, we performed edited MRS measurements of GABA and BOLD-fMRI experiments using regionally related activation paradigms. Regions and tasks were the: occipital cortex with a visual grating stimulus; auditory cortex with a white noise stimulus; sensorimotor cortex with a finger-tapping task; frontal eye field with a saccade task; and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex with a working memory task. In contrast to the prior literature, no correlation between GABA concentration and BOLD activation was detected in any region. The origin of this discrepancy is not clear. Subtle differences in study design or insufficient power may cause differing results; these and other potential reasons for the discrepant results are discussed. This negative result, although it should be interpreted with caution, has a larger sample size than prior positive results, and suggests that the relationship between GABA and the BOLD response may be more complex than previously thought.

published proceedings

  • PLoS One

altmetric score

  • 7.45

author list (cited authors)

  • Harris, A. D., Puts, N., Anderson, B. A., Yantis, S., Pekar, J. J., Barker, P. B., & Edden, R.

citation count

  • 38

complete list of authors

  • Harris, Ashley D||Puts, Nicolaas AJ||Anderson, Brian A||Yantis, Steven||Pekar, James J||Barker, Peter B||Edden, Richard AE

editor list (cited editors)

  • Luo, X. i.

publication date

  • February 2015