Transfer function analysis of dynamic cerebral autoregulation in humans

Rong Zhang, Julie H. Zuckerman, Cole A. Giller, Benjamin D. Levine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

592 Scopus citations


To test the hypothesis that spontaneous changes in cerebral blood flow are primarily induced by changes in arterial pressure and that cerebral autoregulation is a frequency-dependent phenomenon, we measured mean arterial pressure in the finger and mean blood flow velocity in the middle cerebral artery (V̇MCA) during supine rest and acute hypotension induced by thigh cuff deflation in 10 healthy subjects. Transfer function gain, phase, and coherence function between changes in arterial pressure and V̇MCA were estimated using the Welch method. The impulse response function, calculated as the inverse Fourier transform of this transfer function, enabled the calculation of transient changes in V̇MCA during acute hypotension, which was compared with the directly measured change in V̇MCA during thigh cuff deflation. Beat-to-beat changes in V̇MCA occurred simultaneously with changes in arterial pressure, and the autospectrum of V̇MCA showed characteristics similar to arterial pressure. Transfer gain increased substantially with increasing frequency from 0.07 to 0.20 Hz in association with a gradual decrease in phase. The coherence function was >0.5 in the frequency range of 0.07-0.30 Hz and <0.5 at <0.07 Hz. Furthermore, the predicted change in V̇MCA was similar to the measured V̇MCA during thigh cuff deflation. These data suggest that spontaneous changes in V̇MCA that occur at the frequency range of 0.07-0.30 Hz are related strongly to changes in arterial pressure and, furthermore, that short-term regulation of cerebral blood flow in response to changes in arterial pressure can be modeled by a transfer function with the quality of a high-pass filter in the frequency range of 0.07-0.30 Hz.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1998



  • Arterial pressure
  • Cerebral blood flow
  • Doppler
  • Fourier analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology

Cite this