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J Neurophysiol. 2001 Feb;85(2):886-99.

Multisensory cortical signal increases and decreases during vestibular galvanic stimulation (fMRI).

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Department of Neurology, Klinikum Grosshadern, Ludwig-Maximilians University, 81377 Munich, Germany.


Functional magnetic resonance imaging blood-oxygenation-level-dependent (BOLD) signal increases (activations) and BOLD signal decreases ("deactivations") were compared in six healthy volunteers during galvanic vestibular (mastoid) and galvanic cutaneous (neck) stimulation in order to differentiate vestibular from ocular motor and nociceptive functions. By calculating the contrast for vestibular activation minus cutaneous activation for the group, we found activations in the anterior parts of the insula, the paramedian and dorsolateral thalamus, the putamen, the inferior parietal lobule [Brodmann area (BA) 40], the precentral gyrus (frontal eye field, BA 6), the middle frontal gyrus (prefrontal cortex, BA 46/9), the middle temporal gyrus (BA 37), the superior temporal gyrus (BA 22), and the anterior cingulate gyrus (BA 32) as well as in both cerebellar hemispheres. These activations can be attributed to multisensory vestibular and ocular motor functions. Single-subject analysis in addition showed distinctly nonoverlapping activations in the posterior insula, which corresponds to the parieto-insular vestibular cortex in the monkey. During vestibular stimulation, there was also a significant signal decrease in the visual cortex (BA 18, 19), which spared BA 17. A different "deactivation" was found during cutaneous stimulation; it included upper parieto-occipital areas in the middle temporal and occipital gyri (BA 19/39/18). Under both stimulation conditions, there were signal decreases in the somatosensory cortex (BA 2/3/4). Stimulus-dependent, inhibitory vestibular-visual, and nociceptive-somatosensory interactions may be functionally significant for processing perception and sensorimotor control.

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