The European journal of neuroscience

Close temporal coupling of neuronal activity and tissue oxygen responses in rodent whisker barrel cortex.

PMID 22151136


Neuronal activity elicits metabolic and vascular responses, during which oxygen is first consumed and then supplied to the tissue via an increase in cerebral blood flow. Understanding the spatial and temporal dynamics of blood and tissue oxygen (To₂) responses following neuronal activity is crucial for understanding the physiological basis of functional neuroimaging signals. However, our knowledge is limited because previous To₂ measurements have been made at low temporal resolution (>100 ms). Here we recorded To₂ at high temporal resolution (1 ms), simultaneously with co-localized field potentials, at several cortical depths from the whisker region of the somatosensory cortex in anaesthetized rats and mice. Stimulation of the whiskers produced rapid, laminar-specific changes in To₂. Positive To₂ responses (i.e. increases) were observed in the superficial layers within 50 ms of stimulus onset, faster than previously reported. Negative To₂ responses (i.e. decreases) were observed in the deeper layers, with maximal amplitude in layer IV, within 40 ms of stimulus onset. The amplitude of the negative, but not the positive, To₂ response correlated with local field potential amplitude. Disruption of neurovascular coupling, via nitric oxide synthase inhibition, abolished positive To₂ responses to whisker stimulation in the superficial layers and increased negative To₂ responses in all layers. Our data show that To₂ responses occur rapidly following neuronal activity and are laminar dependent.

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