Harris S, Jones M, Zheng Y, & Berwick J (2010). Does neural input or processing play a greater role in the magnitude of neuroimaging signals? Frontiers in neuroenergetics, 2 PMID: 20740075
which argues that 80% of the BOLD signal is caused by internal processing of neurons, and only 20% is due to input from other neurons.
This result again points out the big gap between fMRI activity and EEG activity, since the input from other neurons is thought to be the "source" of EEG. This also gives us a caution on a group of EEG source localization approaches which use fMRI activity as a spatial constraint for the localization problem.
The abstract of the paper is:
An important constraint on how hemodynamic neuroimaging signals such as fMRI can be interpreted in terms of the underlying evoked activity is an understanding of neurovascular coupling mechanisms that actually generate hemodynamic responses. The predominant view at present is that the hemodynamic response is most correlated with synaptic input and subsequent neural processing rather than spiking output. It is still not clear whether input or processing is more important in the generation of hemodynamics responses. In order to investigate this we measured the hemodynamic and neural responses to electrical whisker pad stimuli in rat whisker barrel somatosensory cortex both before and after the local cortical injections of the GABAA agonist muscimol. Muscimol would not be expected to affect the thalamocortical input into the cortex but would inhibit subsequent intra-cortical processing. Pre-muscimol infusion whisker stimuli elicited the expected neural and accompanying hemodynamic responses to that reported previously. Following infusion of muscimol, although the temporal profile of neural responses to each pulse of the stimulus train was similar, the average response was reduced in magnitude by ∼79% compared to that elicited pre-infusion. The whisker-evoked hemodynamic responses were reduced by a commensurate magnitude suggesting that, although the neurovascular coupling relationships were similar for synaptic input as well as for cortical processing, the magnitude of the overall response is dominated by processing rather than from that produced from the thalamocortical input alone.