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Functional magnetic resonance imaging : an intermediary between behavior and neural activity



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Blood oxygen level dependent (BOLD) functional magnetic resonance imaging is a non-invasive technique used to trace changes in neural dynamics in reaction to mental activity caused by perceptual, motor or cognitive tasks. The BOLD response is a complex signal, a consequence of a series of physiological events regulated by increased neural activity. A method to infer from the BOLD signal onto underlying neuronal activity (hemodynamic inverse problem) is proposed in Chapter 2 under the assumption of a previously proposed mathematical model on the transduction of neural activity to the BOLD signal. Also, in this chapter we clarify the meaning of the neural activity function used as the input for an intrinsic dynamic system which can be viewed as an advanced substitute for the impulse response function. Chapter 3 describes an approach for recovering neural timing information (mental chronometry) in an object interaction decision task via solving the hemodynamic inverse problem. In contrast to the hemodynamic level, at the neural level, we were able to determine statistically significant latencies in activation between functional units in the model used. In Chapter 4, two approaches for regularization parameter tuning in a regularized-regression analysis are compared in an attempt to find the optimal amount of smoothing to be imposed on fMRI data in determining an empirical hemodynamic response function. We found that the noise autocorrelation structure can be improved by tuning the regularization parameter but the whitening-based criterion provides too much smoothing when compared to cross-validation. Chapter~5 illustrates that the smoothing techniques proposed in Chapter 4 can be useful in the issue of correlating behavioral and hemodynamic characteristics. Specifically, Chapter 5, based on the smoothing techniques from Chapter 4, seeks to correlate several parameters characterizing the hemodynamic response in Broca's area to behavioral measures in a naming task. In particular, a condition for independence between two routes of converting print to speech in a dual route cognitive model was verified in terms of hemodynamic parameters.



Functional magnetic resonance imaging, hemodynamic inverse problem



Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Biomedical Engineering


Biomedical Engineering



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