Functional MRI studies of word-stem completion: Reliability across laboratories and comparison to blood flow imaging with PET

Jeffrey G. Ojemann, Randy L. Buckner, Erbil Akbudak, Abraham Z. Snyder, John M. Ollinger, Robert C. McKinstry, Bruce R. Rosen, Steve E. Petersen, Marcus E. Raichle, Thomas E. Conturo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

119 Scopus citations


Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) based on blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) contrast has become an increasingly popular technique for mapping the brain. The relationship between BOLD-fMRI imaging and imaging of blood flow activation with positron emission tomography (PET) remains unclear. Moreover, BOLD imaging strategies and analysis procedures vary widely across laboratories. To examine the relationship between these different methods, we compared brain activation maps of a word-stem completion task obtained both using PET and using fMRI across two separate institutions (Washington University and Massachusetts General Hospital) with different acquisitions (gradient-refocused echo and asymmetric spin echo) and different analysis techniques. Overall, activation maps were highly similar across both fMRI methods and PET. A set of activated brain areas, in consistent locations in Talairach atlas space, were identified across all three studies, including visual striate and extrastriate, left prefrontal, supplementary motor area (SMA), and right cerebellar areas. Decreases in activation were also consistently observed in medial parietal, posterior insular, and medial inferior frontal areas. Some differences were noted that may be related to the silent performance of the task with fMRI. The largely consistent results suggest that comparisons can be made appropriately across imaging modalities and laboratory methods. A further implication of the consistencies, which extended to both increases and decreases in signal, is that the underlying brain physiology leading to BOLD contrast may be more similar to blood flow than originally appreciated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)203-215
Number of pages13
JournalHuman Brain Mapping
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1998


  • BOLD
  • Cerebral blood flow
  • Cerebral oxygen metabolism
  • Cognition
  • Imaging methods


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