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Exp Neurol. 2000 Dec;166(2):246-53.

Functional MRI at 4.7 tesla of the rat brain during electric stimulation of forepaw, hindpaw, or tail in single- and multislice experiments.

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Department of Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet and Karolinska Hospital, Stockholm, S-171 77, Sweden.


Stimulation of peripheral nerves activates corresponding regions in sensorimotor cortex. We have applied functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) techniques to monitor activated brain regions by means of measuring changes of blood oxygenation level-dependent contrast during electric stimulation of the forepaw, hindpaw, or tail in rats. During alpha-chloralose anesthesia, artificial respiration, and complete muscle relaxation, stimulations were delivered at 3 Hz via subcutaneous bipolar electrodes with 500-microseconds-current pulses of 0.2-2.0 mA. Single- or multislice gradient echo images were collected during recording sessions consisting of five alternating rest and stimulation periods. Stimulation of the right and left forepaws and hindpaws repeatedly led to robust activation of the contralateral sensorimotor cortex. There was a significant correlation (P < 0.05) between current pulse strength and amount of activation of the sensory cortex during forepaw stimulation. The center of the main cortical representation of the forepaw was situated 3.4 mm lateral to the midline and 5 mm posterior to the rhinal fissure. The main representation of the hindpaw was 2.0 mm lateral to the midline and 6 mm posterior to the rhinal fissure. Tail stimulation gave rise to a strikingly extended bilateral cortical activation, localized along the midline in medial parietal and frontal cortex 4 and 5 mm posterior to the rhinal fissure. In conclusion, the experiments provide evidence that peripheral nerve stimulation induces a fMRI signal in the respective division of the somatosensory cortex in a stimulus-related manner. The marked cortical activation elicited by tail stimulation underlines the key importance of the tail.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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