Stimulation-Induced Decreases in the Diffusion of Extra-vascular Water in the Human Visual Cortex: a Window in Time and Space on Mechanisms of Brain Water Transport and Economy
Using MRI, we report the observation of a transient decrease of the apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) of water in the human brain visual cortex during activation by a black and white 8-Hz-flickering checkerboard. The ADC decrease was small (<1%), but significant and reproducible, and closely followed the time course of the activation paradigm. Based on the known sensitivity of diffusion MRI to cell size in tissues and on optical imaging studies that have revealed changes in the shape of neurons and glial cells during activation, the observed ADC findings have been tentatively ascribed to a transient swelling of cortical cells. These preliminary results suggest a new approach to produce images of brain activation with MRI from signals directly associated with neuronal activation, and not through changes in local blood flow.