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Magn Reson Med. 2004 Jul;52(1):89-99.

Functional MRI of the rodent somatosensory pathway using multislice echo planar imaging.

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Laboratory of Functional and Molecular Imaging, National Institutes of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA.


A multislice EPI sequence was used to obtain functional MR images of the entire rat brain with BOLD contrast at 11.7 T. Ten to 11 slices covering the rat brain, with an in-plane resolution of 300 microm, provided enough sensitivity to detect activation in brain regions known to be involved in the somatosensory pathway during stimulation of the forelimbs. These regions were identified by warping a digitized rat brain atlas to each set of images. Data analysis was constrained to four major areas of the somatosensory pathway: primary and secondary somatosensory cortices, thalamus, and cerebellum. Incidence maps were generated. Electrical stimulation at 3 Hz led to significant activation in the primary sensory cortex in all rats. Activation in the secondary sensory cortex and cerebellum was observed in 70% of the studies, while thalamic activation was observed in 40%. The amplitude of activation was measured for each area, and average response time courses were calculated. Finally, the frequency dependence of the response to forepaw stimulation was measured in each of the activated areas. Optimal activation occurred in all areas at 3 Hz. These results demonstrate that whole-brain fMRI can be performed on rodents at 11.7 T to probe a well-defined neural network.

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