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An intra-neural microstimulation system for ultra-high field magnetic resonance imaging and magnetoencephalography

Journal article
Authors P. M. Glover
Roger H. Watkins
G. C. O'Neill
Rochelle Ackerley
R. Sanchez-Panchuelo
F. McGlone
M. J. Brookes
Johan Wessberg
S. T. Francis
Published in Journal of Neuroscience Methods
Volume 290
Pages 69-78
ISSN 0165-0270
Publication year 2017
Published at Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology
Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Department of Physiology
Pages 69-78
Language en
Keywords Instrumentation, Stimulus generation, Low-noise amplifier, Nerve stimulation, human hand, intraneural microstimulation, somatosensory cortex, sensations, afferents, responses, units, Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, Neurosciences & Neurology, arleston, sc, v16, p1025
Subject categories Medical Laboratory and Measurements Technologies, Neuroscience, Experimental brain research, Physiology


Background: Intra-neural microstimulation (INMS) is a technique that allows the precise delivery of low-current electrical pulses into human peripheral nerves. Single unit INMS can be used to stimulate individual afferent nerve fibres during microneurography. Combining this with neuroimaging allows the unique monitoring of central nervous system activation in response to unitary, controlled tactile input, with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) providing exquisite spatial localisation of brain activity and magnetoencephalography (MEG) high temporal resolution. New method: INMS systems suitable for use within electrophysiology laboratories have been available for many years. We describe an INMS system specifically designed to provide compatibility with both ultra-high field (7 T) fMRI and MEG. Numerous technical and safety issues are addressed. The system is fully analogue, allowing for arbitrary frequency and amplitude INMS stimulation. Results: Unitary recordings obtained within both the MRI and MEG screened -room environments are comparable with those obtained in 'clean' electrophysiology recording environments. Single unit INMS (current <7 mu A, 200 mu s pulses) of individual mechanoreceptive afferents produces appropriate and robust responses during fMRI and MEG. Comparison with existing method(s): This custom-built MRI- and MEG-compatible stimulator overcomes issues with existing INMS approaches; it allows well-controlled switching between recording and stimulus mode, prevents electrical shocks because of long cable lengths, permits unlimited patterns of stimulation, and provides a system with improved work-flow and participant comfort. Conclusions: We demonstrate that the requirements for an INMS-integrated system, which can be used with both fMRI and MEG imaging systems, have been fully met. (C) 2017 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier B.V.

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