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Cortical brain responses during passive nonpainful median nerve stimulation at low frequencies (0.5–4 Hz): An fMRI study

Authors

  • Antonio Ferretti,

    Corresponding author
    1. ITAB—Institute for Advanced Biomedical Technologies, Foundation Università Gabriele D'Annunzio, Chieti, Italy
    2. Department of Clinical Sciences and Bio-imaging, University of Chieti, Chieti, Italy
    • ITAB—Institute for Advanced Biomedical Technologies, Foundation Università Gabriele D'Annunzio, Chieti, Italy
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  • Claudio Babiloni,

    1. Department of Human Physiology and Pharmacology, University of Rome La Sapienza, Rome, Italy
    2. Department of Clinical Neurosciences, University of Rome Campus Biomedico, Rome, Italy
    3. AFaR IRCCS, S. Giovanni di Dio, Brescia, Italy
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  • Donatello Arienzo,

    1. Department of Clinical Sciences and Bio-imaging, University of Chieti, Chieti, Italy
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  • Cosimo Del Gratta,

    1. ITAB—Institute for Advanced Biomedical Technologies, Foundation Università Gabriele D'Annunzio, Chieti, Italy
    2. Department of Clinical Sciences and Bio-imaging, University of Chieti, Chieti, Italy
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  • Paolo Maria Rossini,

    1. Department of Clinical Neurosciences, University of Rome Campus Biomedico, Rome, Italy
    2. AFaR IRCCS, S. Giovanni di Dio, Brescia, Italy
    3. AFaR CRCCS Department of Neurology, Fatebenefratelli Hospital, Isola Tiberina, Rome, Italy
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  • Armando Tartaro,

    1. ITAB—Institute for Advanced Biomedical Technologies, Foundation Università Gabriele D'Annunzio, Chieti, Italy
    2. Department of Clinical Sciences and Bio-imaging, University of Chieti, Chieti, Italy
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  • Gian Luca Romani

    1. ITAB—Institute for Advanced Biomedical Technologies, Foundation Università Gabriele D'Annunzio, Chieti, Italy
    2. Department of Clinical Sciences and Bio-imaging, University of Chieti, Chieti, Italy
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Abstract

Previous findings have shown that the human somatosensory cortical systems that are activated by passive nonpainful electrical stimulation include the contralateral primary somatosensory area (SI), bilateral secondary somatosensory area (SII), and bilateral insula. The present study tested the hypothesis that these areas have different sensitivities to stimulation frequency in the condition of passive stimulation. Functional MRI (fMRI) was recorded in 24 normal volunteers during nonpainful electrical median nerve stimulations at 0.5, 1, 2, and 4 Hz repetition rates in separate recording blocks in pseudorandom order. Results of the blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) effect showed that the contralateral SI, the bilateral SII, and the bilateral insula were active during these stimulations. As a major finding, only the contralateral SI increased its activation with the increase of the stimulus frequency at the mentioned range. The fact that nonpainful median-nerve electrical stimuli at 4 Hz induces a larger BOLD response is of interest both for basic research and clinical applications in subjects unable to perform cognitive tasks in the fMRI scanner. Hum Brain Mapp 2006. © 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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