Neural Activation in the Somatosensory Cortex by Electrotactile Stimulation of the Fingers: A Human fMRI Study Seok, Ji-Woo; Jang, Un-Jung; Sohn, Jin-Hun;
Objective: The aim of this study is to investigate 1) somatotopic arrangement of the second and third fingers in SI area 2) difference of neural activation in the SI area produced by stimulation with different frequencies 3) correlation between the intensity of tactile perception by different stimulus intensity and the level of brain activation measurable by means of fMRI. Background: Somatosensory cortex can obtain the information of environmental stimuli about "where" (e.g., on the left palm), "what" (e.g., a book or a dog), and "how" (e.g., scrub gently or scrub roughly) to organism. However, compared to visual sense, the neural mechanism underlying the processing of specific electrotactile stimulus is still unknown. Method: 10 right-handed subjects participated in this study. Non-painful electrotactile stimuli were delivered to two different finger tips of right hand. Functional brain images were collected from 3.0T MRI using the single-shot EPI method. The scanning parameters were as follows: TR and TE were 3000, 35ms, respectively, flip angle 60, FOV , matrix size , slice thickness 4mm (no gap). SPM5 was used to analyze the fMRI data. Results: Significant activations produced by the stimulation were found in the SI, SII, the subcentral gyrus, the precentral gyrus, and the insula. In all participants, statistically significant activation was observed in the contralateral SI area and the bilateral SII areas by the stimulation on the fingers but ipsilaterally dominant. The SI area representing the second finger generally located in the more lateral and inferior side than that of the third finger across all the subjects. But no difference in brain area was found for the stimulation of the fingers by different frequencies. And two typical patterns were observed on the relationship between the perceived psychological intensity and the amount of voxels in the primary sensory cortex during the stimulation. Conclusion: It was possible to discriminate the representation sites in the SI by electrotactile stimulation of digit2 and digit3. But we could not find the differences of the brain areas according to different stimulation frequencies from 3 to 300Hz. Application: The results of the study can provide a deeper understanding of somatosensory cortex and offer the information for tactile display for blinds.
Electrotactile stimulation;Frequency;Functional magnetic resonance imaging;Somatosensory area;
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