Reduced BOLD response to periodic visual stimulation

Laura M. Parkes*, Pascal Fries, Christian M. Kerskens, David G. Norris

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)
14 Downloads (Pure)


The blood oxygenation level-dependent (BOLD) response to entrained neuronal firing in the human visual cortex and lateral geniculate nuclei was investigated. Periodic checkerboard flashes at a range of frequencies (4-20 Hz) were used to drive the visual cortex neurons into entrained oscillatory firing. This is compared to a checkerboard flashing aperiodically, with the same average number of flashes per unit time. A magnetoencephalography (MEG) measurement was made to confirm that the periodic paradigm elicited entrainment. We found that for frequencies of 10 and 15 Hz, the periodic stimulus gave a smaller BOLD response than for the aperiodic stimulus. Detailed investigation at 15 Hz showed that the aperiodic stimulus gave a similar BOLD increase regardless of the magnitude of jitter (±17 ms compared to ±33 ms), indicating that flashes need to be precise to at least 17 ms to maintain entrainment. This is also evidence that for aperiodic stimuli, the amplitude of the BOLD response ordinarily reflects the total number of flashes per unit time, irrespective of the precise spacing between them, suggesting that entrainment is the main cause of the BOLD reduction in the periodic condition. The results indicate that, during entrainment, there is a reduction in the neuronal metabolic demand. We suggest that because of the selective frequency band of this effect, it could be connected to synchronised reverberations around an internal feedback loop.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)236-243
Number of pages8
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Blood oxygenation level-dependent response
  • Entrained neuronal firing
  • Human visual cortex


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