FMRI measurements of amygdala activation are confounded by stimulus correlated signal fluctuation in nearby veins draining distant brain regions

Roland N. Boubela, Klaudius Kalcher, Wolfgang Huf, Eva Maria Seidel, Birgit Derntl, Lukas Pezawas, Christian Našel, Ewald Moser

Research output: Journal article (peer-reviewed)Journal article

72 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Imaging the amygdala with functional MRI is confounded by multiple averse factors, notably signal dropouts due to magnetic inhomogeneity and low signal-to-noise ratio, making it difficult to obtain consistent activation patterns in this region. However, even when consistent signal changes are identified, they are likely to be due to nearby vessels, most notably the basal vein of rosenthal (BVR). Using an accelerated fMRI sequence with a high temporal resolution (TR = 333 ms) combined with susceptibility-weighted imaging, we show how signal changes in the amygdala region can be related to a venous origin. This finding is confirmed here in both a conventional fMRI dataset (TR = 2000 ms) as well as in information of meta-analyses, implying that "amygdala activations" reported in typical fMRI studies are likely confounded by signals originating in the BVR rather than in the amygdala itself, thus raising concerns about many conclusions on the functioning of the amygdala that rely on fMRI evidence alone.

Original languageEnglish
Article number10499
JournalScientific Reports
Volume5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 21 May 2015

Keywords

  • Adult
  • Amygdala/anatomy & histology
  • Brain Mapping
  • Cerebral Veins/diagnostic imaging
  • Emotions/physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Radiography
  • Signal-To-Noise Ratio

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Multidisciplinary

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