A Research Blog

Prof Michael Chee

This article was contributed by Professor Michael Chee, Director, Centre for Cognitive Neuroscience, Duke-NUS Medical School

fMRI, a brain imaging technique, can detect spontaneous fluctuations in blood flow that are synchronized across functionally related but physically separate brain regions. More recently, it has been shown that this type of functional connectivity, evaluated by when a person simply lies down in a MRI scanner with his / her eyes open, is not static. Instead, it displays recurrent shifting patterns not unlike a restless sea. Although dynamic shifts in functional connectivity have been suspected to signify changing mental states, clear proof that the shifts have behavioral significance has been elusive.

A team led by Michael Chee and Juan Zhou of Duke-NUS Medical School, Singapore and communicated in the Aug 8th issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (USA) found the missing link between shifting mental gears and imaging data through sophisticated analyses anchored on the everyday observation that when we are sleepy, our eyelids tend to shut.

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