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Reproducibility Of Swallow-induced Cortical BOLD Positive And Negative FMRI Activity

Arash Babaei, B. Douglas Ward, Shahryar Ahmad, Anna Patel, Andrew Nencka, Shi-Jiang Li, James Hyde, Reza Shaker

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Functional MRI (fMRI) studies have demonstrated that a number of brain regions (cingulate, insula, prefrontal, and sensory/motor cortices) display blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) positive activity during swallow. Negative BOLD activations and reproducibility of these activations have not been systematically studied. The aim of our study was to investigate the reproducibility of swallow-related cortical positive and negative BOLD activity across different fMRI sessions. We studied 16 healthy volunteers utilizing an fMRI event-related analysis. Individual analysis using a general linear model was used to remove undesirable signal changes correlated with motion, white matter, and cerebrospinal fluid. The group analysis used a mixed-effects multilevel model to identify active cortical regions. The volume and magnitude of a BOLD signal within each cluster was compared between the two study sessions. All subjects showed significant clustered BOLD activity within the known areas of cortical swallowing network across both sessions. The cross-correlation coefficient of percent fMRI signal change and the number of activated voxels across both positive and negative BOLD networks were similar between the two studies ( r ≥ 0.87, P < 0.0001). Swallow-associated negative BOLD activity was comparable to the well-defined “default-mode” network, and positive BOLD activity had noticeable overlap with the previously described “task-positive” network. Swallow activates two parallel cortical networks. These include a positive and a negative BOLD network, respectively, correlated and anticorrelated with swallow stimulus. Group cortical activity maps, as well as extent and amplitude of activity induced by volitional swallowing in the cortical swallowing network, are reproducible between study sessions.