Inferring neural mechanisms from functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) is challenging because the fMRI signal integrates over millions of neurons. One approach is to compare computational models that map neural activity to fMRI responses, to see which best predicts fMRI data. Scientists, including MRC CBU’s Rik Henson, Arjen Alink and Huna Abdulrahman, use this approach to compare four possible neural mechanisms of fMRI adaptation to repeated stimuli (scaling, sharpening, repulsive shifting and attractive shifting), acting across three domains (global, local and remote). Six features of fMRI repetition effects are identified, both univariate and multivariate, from two independent fMRI experiments. After searching over parameter values, only the local scaling model can simultaneously fit all data features from both experiments. Thus fMRI stimulus repetition effects are best captured by down-scaling neuronal tuning curves in proportion to the difference between the stimulus and neuronal preference. These results emphasize the importance of formal modelling for bridging neuronal and fMRI levels of investigation.
The full paper, published in Nature can be read here: Forward models demonstrate that repetition supression is best modelled by local neural scaling
For more information please contact Rik Henson