Opposite dynamics of GABA and glutamate levels in the occipital cortex during visual processing

Katarzyna Kurcyus, Efsun Annac, Nina M. Hanning, Ashley D. Harris, Georg Oeltzschner, Richard Edden, Valentin Riedl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) measures the two most common inhibitory and excitatory neurotransmitters, GABA and glutamate, in the human brain. However, the role of MRS-derived GABA and glutamate signals in relation to system-level neural signaling and behavior is not fully understood. In this study, we investigated levels of GABA and glutamate in the visual cortex of healthy human participants (both genders) in three functional states with increasing visual input. Compared with a baseline state of eyes closed, GABA levels decreased after opening the eyes in darkness and Glx levels remained stable during eyes open but increased with visual stimulation. In relevant states, GABA and Glx correlated with amplitude of fMRI signal fluctuations. Furthermore, visual discriminatory performance correlated with the level of GABA, but not Glx. Our study suggests that differences in brain states can be detected through the contrasting dynamics of GABA and Glx, which has implications in interpreting MRS measurements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9967-9976
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number46
StatePublished - Nov 14 2018


  • GABA
  • Glutamate
  • Rs-fMRI
  • Visual discriminatory performance
  • Visual system
  • fMRS

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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