Ultra-high field fMRI reveals origins of feedforward and feedback activity within laminae of human ocular dominance columns

Gilles de Hollander, Wietske van der Zwaag, Chencan Qian, Peng Zhang, Tomas Knapen

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Abstract

Ultra-high field MRI can functionally image the cerebral cortex of human subjects at the submillimeter scale of cortical columns and laminae. Here, we investigate both in concert, by imaging ocular dominance columns (ODCs) in primary visual cortex (V1) across different cortical depths. We ensured that putative ODC patterns in V1 (a) are stable across runs, sessions, and scanners located in different continents, (b) have a width (∼1.3 mm) expected from post-mortem and animal work and (c) are absent at the retinotopic location of the blind spot. We then dissociated the effects of bottom-up thalamo-cortical input and attentional feedback processes on activity in V1 across cortical depth. Importantly, the separation of bottom-up information flows into ODCs allowed us to validly compare attentional conditions while keeping the stimulus identical throughout the experiment. We find that, when correcting for draining vein effects and using both model-based and model-free approaches, the effect of monocular stimulation is largest at deep and middle cortical depths. Conversely, spatial attention influences BOLD activity exclusively near the pial surface. Our findings show that simultaneous interrogation of columnar and laminar dimensions of the cortical fold can dissociate thalamocortical inputs from top-down processing, and allow the investigation of their interactions without any stimulus manipulation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)117683
JournalNeuroImage
Volume228
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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