fMRI localizer technique: Efficient acquisition and functional properties of single retinotopic positions in the human visual cortex
Current fMRI retinotopic mapping procedures often use checkerboard stimuli consisting of expanding rings and rotating wedges to measure the topography within human visual areas. Efficient procedures are well described in the literature. For many experimental paradigms, e.g., visuo-spatial attention paradigms, the identification of task-relevant positions is the only mandatory prerequisite. To define these specific “regions-of-interest” (ROIs), spatially defined localizers are used. A precise evaluation of localizer techniques in regard to efficient scanning time, optimal BOLD (blood oxygenic level dependent) response, as well as quantification of the resulting ROIs within each visual area (size, overlap, surround effects) has not been studied to date. Here, we suggest a mapping procedure designed to quantify spatial and functional properties of single positions at close proximity in multiple human visual areas. During a passive viewing task, various stimuli (e.g., checkerboards or colored objects) subtending 1.4° of visual angle were presented at one out of four positions in a randomized block design. We measured the degree of overlap between positions at different hierarchical levels of the visual system (V1–V4v) and quantified modulatory effects on a specific position by stimulation at neighboring (1.7° spacing) or distant positions (5.1° or 8.5° spacing). Within each visual area, “mexican-hat” distributions of local signal intensity changes, which describe a particular combination of facilitatory and suppressive effects, were found. Cubic fitting revealed the most localized tuning effect in V1, which gradually decreased throughout the higher visual areas. Colored objects were most efficient in localizing circumscribed retinotopic positions in both early and higher areas.