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Electrophysiology meets fMRI: Neural correlates of the startle reflex assessed by simultaneous EMG–fMRI data acquisition

Authors

  • Irene Neuner,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, RWTH Aachen University, 52074 Aachen, Germany
    2. Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine-4, Forschungszentrum Juelich GmbH, 52425 Juelich, Germany
    3. JARA—Translational Brain Medicine, Juelich, Germany
    • Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, RWTH Aachen University, Pauwelsstr. 30, 52074 Aachen, Germany
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  • Tony Stöcker,

    1. Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine-4, Forschungszentrum Juelich GmbH, 52425 Juelich, Germany
    2. JARA—Translational Brain Medicine, Juelich, Germany
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  • Thilo Kellermann,

    1. Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, RWTH Aachen University, 52074 Aachen, Germany
    2. JARA—Translational Brain Medicine, Juelich, Germany
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  • Veronika Ermer,

    1. Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine-4, Forschungszentrum Juelich GmbH, 52425 Juelich, Germany
    2. JARA—Translational Brain Medicine, Juelich, Germany
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  • Hans Peter Wegener,

    1. Central Institute of Electronics, Forschungszentrum Juelich GmbH, 52425 Juelich, Germany
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  • Simon B. Eickhoff,

    1. Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, RWTH Aachen University, 52074 Aachen, Germany
    2. JARA—Translational Brain Medicine, Juelich, Germany
    3. Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine-2, Forschungszentrum Juelich GmbH, 52425 Juelich, Germany
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  • Frank Schneider,

    1. Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, RWTH Aachen University, 52074 Aachen, Germany
    2. JARA—Translational Brain Medicine, Juelich, Germany
    3. Brain Imaging Centre West, 52425 Juelich, Germany
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  • N. Jon Shah

    1. Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine-4, Forschungszentrum Juelich GmbH, 52425 Juelich, Germany
    2. JARA—Translational Brain Medicine, Juelich, Germany
    3. Brain Imaging Centre West, 52425 Juelich, Germany
    4. Department of Neurology, RWTH Aachen University, 52074 Aachen, Germany
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Abstract

The startle reflex provides a unique tool for the investigation of sensorimotor gating and information processing. Simultaneous EMG–fMRI acquisition (i.e., online stimulation and recording in the MR environment) allows for the quantitative assessment of the neuronal correlates of the startle reflex and its modulations on a single trial level. This serves as the backbone for a startle response informed fMRI analysis, which is fed by data acquired in the same brain at the same time. We here present the first MR study using a single trial approach with simultaneous acquired EMG and fMRI data on the human startle response in 15 healthy young men. It investigates the neural correlates for isolated air puff startle pulses (PA), prepulse–pulse inhibition (PPI), and prepulse facilitation (PPF). We identified a common core network engaged by all three conditions (PA, PPI, and PPF), consisting of bilateral primary and secondary somatosensory cortices, right insula, right thalamus, right temporal pole, middle cingulate cortex, and cerebellum. The cerebellar vermis exhibits distinct activation patterns between the startle modifications. It is differentially activated with the highest amplitude for PPF, a lower activation for PA, and lowest for PPI. The orbital frontal cortex exhibits a differential activation pattern, not for the type of startle response but for the amplitude modification. For pulse alone it is close to zero; for PPI it is activated. This is in contrast to PPF where it shows deactivation. In addition, the thalamus, the cerebellum, and the anterior cingulate cortex add to the modulation of the startle reflex. Hum Brain Mapp, 2010. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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