Comparing BOLD and VASO-CBV population receptive field estimates in human visual cortex

Ícaro A.F. Oliveira*, Yuxuan Cai, Shir Hofstetter, Jeroen C.W. Siero, Wietske van der Zwaag, Serge O. Dumoulin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Vascular Space Occupancy (VASO) is an alternative fMRI approach based on changes in Cerebral Blood Volume (CBV). VASO-CBV fMRI can provide higher spatial specificity than the blood oxygenation level-dependent (BOLD) method because the CBV response is thought to be limited to smaller vessels. To investigate how this technique compares to BOLD fMRI for cognitive neuroscience applications, we compared population receptive field (pRF) mapping estimates between BOLD and VASO-CBV. We hypothesized that VASO-CBV would elicit distinct pRF properties compared to BOLD. Specifically, since pRF size estimates also depend on vascular sources, we hypothesized that reduced vascular blurring might yield narrower pRFs for VASO-CBV measurements. We used a VASO sequence with a double readout 3D EPI sequence at 7T to simultaneously measure VASO-CBV and BOLD responses in the visual cortex while participants viewed conventional pRF mapping stimuli. Both VASO-CBV and BOLD images show similar eccentricity and polar angle maps across all participants. Compared to BOLD-based measurements, VASO-CBV yielded lower tSNR and variance explained. The pRF size changed with eccentricity similarly for VASO-CBV and BOLD, and the pRF size estimates were similar for VASO-CBV and BOLD, even when we equate variance explained between VASO-CBV and BOLD. This result suggests that the vascular component of the pRF size is not dominating in either VASO-CBV or BOLD.

Original languageEnglish
Article number118868
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022


  • BOLD
  • Cerebral blood volume
  • pRF
  • Vascular contribution
  • Vascular space occupancy
  • VASO
  • Visual cortex


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