Functional MRS studies of GABA and glutamate/Glx – A systematic review and meta-analysis

Duanghathai Pasanta, Jason L. He, Talitha Ford, Georg Oeltzschner, David J. Lythgoe, Nicolaas A. Puts*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Functional magnetic resonance spectroscopy (fMRS) can be used to investigate neurometabolic responses to external stimuli in-vivo, but findings are inconsistent. We performed a systematic review and meta-analysis on fMRS studies of the primary neurotransmitters Glutamate (Glu), Glx (Glutamate + Glutamine), and GABA. Data were extracted, grouped by metabolite, stimulus domain, and brain region, and analysed by determining standardized effect sizes. The quality of individual studies was rated. When results were analysed by metabolite type small to moderate effect sizes of 0.29–0.47 (p < 0.05) were observed for changes in Glu and Glx regardless of stimulus domain and brain region, but no significant effects were observed for GABA. Further analysis suggests that Glu, Glx and GABA responses differ by stimulus domain or task and vary depending on the time course of stimulation and data acquisition. Here, we establish effect sizes and directionality of GABA, Glu and Glx response in fMRS. This work highlights the importance of standardised reporting and minimal best practice for fMRS research.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104940
JournalNeuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews
Early online date23 Nov 2022
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023


  • FMRS
  • Functional magnetic resonance spectroscopy
  • GABA
  • Glutamate
  • Glx
  • Meta-analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic


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