Spontaneous fluctuations in cerebral blood flow: Insights from extended- duration recordings in humans

Rong Zhang, Julie H. Zuckerman, Benjamin D. Levine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

86 Scopus citations


To determine the dependence of cerebral blood flow (CBF) on arterial pressure over prolonged time periods, we measured beat-to-beat changes in mean CBF velocity in the middle cerebral artery (transcranial Doppler) and mean arterial pressure (Finapres) continuously for 2 h in six healthy subjects (5 men and 1 woman, 18-40 yr old) during supine rest. Fluctuations in velocity and pressure were quantified by the range [(peak - trough)/mean] and coefficients of variation (SD/mean) in the time domain and by spectral analysis in the frequency domain. Mean velocity and pressure over the 2-h recordings were 60 ± 7 cm/s and 83 ± 8 mmHg, associated with ranges of 77 ± 8 and 89 ± 10% and coefficients of variation of 9.3 ± 2.2 and 7.9 ± 2.3%, respectively. Spectral power of the velocity and pressure was predominantly distributed in the frequency range of 0.00014-0.1 Hz and increased inversely with frequency, indicating characteristics of an inverse power law (1/f(α)). However, linear regression on a log-log scale revealed that the slope of spectral power of pressure and velocity was steeper in the high-frequency (0.02-0.5 Hz) than in the low-frequency range (0.002-0.02 Hz), suggesting different regulatory mechanisms in these two frequency ranges. Furthermore, the spectral slope of pressure was significantly steeper than that of velocity in the low-frequency range, consistent with the low transfer function gain and low coherence estimated at these frequencies. We conclude that 1) long-term fluctuations in CBF velocity are prominent and similar to those observed in arterial pressure, 2) spectral power of CBF velocity reveals characteristics of 1/f(α), and 3) cerebral attenuation of oscillations in CBF velocity in response to changes in pressure may be more effective at low than that at high frequencies, emphasizing the frequency dependence of cerebral autoregulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)H1848-H1855
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number6 47-6
StatePublished - Jun 2000


  • Blood pressure
  • Doppler
  • Spectral analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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