Developmental patterns of CBF and BOLD responses to visual stimulus
To investigate the developmental changes of cerebral blood flow (CBF) and hemodynamic responses to changing neural activity, we used the arterial spin label (ASL) technique to measure resting CBF and simultaneous CBF / blood-oxygen-level dependent (BOLD) signal changes during visual stimulation in 97 typically developing children and young adults (age 13.35 [6.02, 25.25] (median [min, max]) years old at the first time point). The longitudinal study protocol included three MRIs (2.7 ± 0.06 obtained), one year apart, for each participant. Mixed-effect linear and non-linear statistical models were used to analyze age effects on CBF and BOLD signals. Resting CBF decreased exponentially with age (p = 0.0001) throughout the brain, and developmental trajectories differed across brain lobes. The absolute CBF increase in visual cortex during stimulation was constant over the age range, but the fractional CBF change increased with age (p = 0.0001) and the fractional BOLD signal increased with age (p = 0.0001) correspondingly. These findings suggest that the apparent neural hemodynamic coupling in visual cortex does not change after age six years, but age-related BOLD signal changes continue through adolescence primarily due to the changes with age in resting CBF.