Recent imaging studies have demonstrated that levels of resting GABA in the visual cortex predict the degree of stimulus-induced activity in the same region. These studies have used the presentation of discrete visual stimulus; the change from closed eyes to open also represents a simple visual stimulus, however, and has been shown to induce changes in local brain activity and in functional connectivity between regions. We thus aimed to investigate the role of the GABA system, specifically GABAA receptors, in the changes in brain activity between the eyes closed (EC) and eyes open (EO) state in order to provide detail at the receptor level to complement previous studies of GABA concentrations. We conducted an fMRI study involving two different modes of the change from EC to EO: An EO and EC block design, allowing the modelling of the haemodynamic response, followed by longer periods of EC and EO to allow the measuring of functional connectivity. The same subjects also underwent [18F]Flumazenil PET measure GABAA receptor binding potentials. It was demonstrated that the local-to-global ratio of GABAA receptor binding potential in the visual cortex predicted the degree of changes in neural activity from EC to EO. This same relationship was also shown in the auditory cortex. Furthermore, the local-to-global ratio of GABAA receptor binding potential in the visual cortex also predicts the change of functional connectivity between visual and auditory cortex from EC to EO. These findings contribute to our understanding of the role of GABAA receptors in stimulus-induced neural activity in local regions and in inter-regional functional connectivity.
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