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Correlations between fluctuations in resting state BOLD fMRI signals are interpreted as measures of functional connectivity (FC), but the neural basis of their origins and their relationships to specific features of underlying electrophysiologic activity, have not been fully established. In particular, the dependence of FC metrics on different frequency bands of local field potentials (LFPs), and the relationship of dynamic changes in BOLD FC to underlying temporal variations of LFP correlations, are not known. We compared the spatial profiles of resting state coherences of different frequency bands of LFP signals, with high resolution resting state BOLD FC measurements. We also compared the probability distributions of temporal variations of connectivity in both modalities using a Markov chain model-based approach. We analyzed data obtained from the primary somatosensory (S1) cortex of monkeys. We found that in areas 3b and 1 of S1 cortex, low frequency LFP signal fluctuations were the main contributions to resting state LFP coherence. Additionally, the dynamic changes of BOLD FC behaved most similarly to the LFP low frequency signal coherence. These results indicate that, within the S1 cortex meso-scale circuit studied, resting state FC measures from BOLD fMRI mainly reflect contributions from low frequency LFP signals and their dynamic changes.
Whereas resting state blood oxygenation-level dependent (BOLD) functional MRI has been widely used to assess functional connectivity between cortical regions, the laminar specificity of such measures is poorly understood. This study aims to determine: (a) whether the resting state functional connectivity (rsFC) between two functionally related cortical regions varies with cortical depth, (b) the relationship between layer-resolved tactile stimulus-evoked activation pattern and interlayer rsFC pattern between two functionally distinct but related somatosensory areas 3b and 1, and (c) the effects of spatial resolution on rsFC measures. We examined the interlayer rsFC between areas 3b and 1 of squirrel monkeys under anesthesia using tactile stimulus-driven and resting state BOLD acquisitions at submillimeter resolution. Consistent with previous observations in the areas 3b and 1, we detected robust stimulus-evoked BOLD activations with foci were confined mainly to the upper layers (centered at 21% of the cortical depth). By carefully placing seeds in upper, middle, and lower layers of areas 3b and 1, we observed strong rsFC between upper and middle layers of these two areas. The layer-resolved activation patterns in areas 3b and 1 agree with their interlayer rsFC patterns, and are consistent with the known anatomical connections between layers. In summary, using BOLD rsFC pattern, we identified an interlayer interareal microcircuit that shows strong intrinsic functional connections between upper and middle layer areas 3b and 1. RsFC can be used as a robust invasive tool to probe interlayer corticocortical microcircuits.
© 2018 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Focused ultrasound (FUS) has gained recognition as a technique for non-invasive neuromodulation with high spatial precision and the ability to both excite and inhibit neural activity. Here we demonstrate that MRI-guided FUS is capable of exciting precise targets within areas 3a/3b in the monkey brain, causing downstream activations in off-target somatosensory and associated brain regions which are simultaneously detected by functional MRI. The similarity between natural tactile stimulation-and FUS- evoked fMRI activation patterns suggests that FUS likely can excite populations of neurons and produce associated spiking activities that may be subsequently transmitted to other functionally related touch regions. The across-region differences in fMRI signal changes relative to area 3a/3b between tactile and FUS conditions also indicate that FUS modulated the tactile network differently. The significantly faster rising (>1 sec) fMRI signals elicited by direct FUS stimulation at the targeted cortical region suggest that a different neural hemodynamic coupling mechanism may be involved in generating fMRI signals. This is the first demonstration of imaging neural excitation effects of FUS with BOLD fMRI on a specific functional circuit in non-human primates.
This study addresses one long-standing question of whether functional separations are preserved for somatosensory modalities of touch, heat, and cold nociception within primate primary somatosensory (S1) cortex. This information is critical for understanding how the nature of pain is represented in the primate brain. Using a combination of submillimeter-resolution fMRI and microelectrode local field potential (LFP) and spike recordings, we identified spatially segregated cortical zones for processing touch and nociceptive heat and cold stimuli in somatotopically appropriate areas 3a, 3b, 1, and 2 of S1 in male monkeys. The distances between zones were comparable (∼3.4 mm) across stimulus modalities (heat, cold, and tactile), indicating the existence of uniform, modality-specific modules. Stimulus-evoked LFP maps validated the fMRI maps in areas 3b and 1. Isolation of heat and cold nociceptive neurons from the fMRI zones confirmed the validity of using fMRI to probe nociceptive regions and circuits. Resting-state fMRI analysis revealed distinct intrinsic functional circuits among functionally related zones. We discovered distinct modular structures and networks for thermal nociception within S1 cortex, a finding that has significant implications for studying chronic pain syndromes and guiding the selection of neuromodulation targets for chronic pain management. Primate S1 subregions contain discrete heat and cold nociceptive modules. Modules with the same properties exhibit strong functional connection. Nociceptive fMRI response coincides with LFP and spike activities of nociceptive neurons. Functional separation of heat and cold pain is retained within primate S1 cortex.
Copyright © 2018 the authors 0270-6474/18/381774-14$15.00/0.
BACKGROUND - The human somatosensory system comprises dissociable paths for discriminative and affective touch, reflected in separate peripheral afferent populations and distinct cortical targets. Differences in behavioral and neural responses to affective touch may have an important developmental role in early social experiences, which are relevant for autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
METHODS - Using probabilistic tractography, we compared the structural integrity of white matter pathways for discriminative and affective touch in young children with ASD and their typically developing (TD) peers. We examined two tracts: (1) a tract linking the thalamus with the primary somatosensory cortex, which carries discriminative tactile information, and (2) a tract linking the posterior insula-the cortical projection target of unmyelinated tactile afferents mediating affective touch-with the anterior insula, which integrates sensory and visceral inputs to interpret emotional salience of sensory stimuli. We investigated associations between tract integrity and performance on a standardized observational assessment measuring tactile discrimination and affective responses to touch.
RESULTS - Both the thalamocortical and intrainsular tracts showed reduced integrity (higher mean diffusivity) in the ASD group compared to those in the TD group. Consistent with the previous findings, the ASD group exhibited impaired tactile discriminative ability, more tactile defensiveness, and more sensory seeking (e.g., enthusiastic play or repetitive engagement with a specific tactile stimulus). There was a significant relation between intrainsular tract integrity and tactile seeking. The direction of this relation differed between groups: higher intrainsular mean diffusivity (MD) (reflecting decreased tract integrity) was associated with increased tactile seeking in the TD group but with decreased tactile seeking in the ASD group. In the TD group, decreased tactile defensiveness was also associated with higher intrainsular MD, but there was no relation in the ASD group. Discriminative touch was not significantly associated with integrity of either tract in either group.
CONCLUSIONS - These results support previous findings suggesting a central role for the insula in affective response to touch. While both discriminative and affective touch and both somatosensory tracts are affected in ASD, the restriction of brain-behavior associations to the intrainsular tract and tactile seeking suggests more complex and perhaps higher-order influence on differences in tactile defensiveness and discrimination.
OBJECTIVE - The mutant γ-aminobutyric acid type A (GABA ) receptor γ2(Q390X) subunit (Q351X in the mature peptide) has been associated with the epileptic encephalopathy, Dravet syndrome, and the epilepsy syndrome genetic epilepsy with febrile seizures plus (GEFS+). The mutation generates a premature stop codon that results in translation of a stable truncated and misfolded γ2 subunit that accumulates in neurons, forms intracellular aggregates, disrupts incorporation of γ2 subunits into GABA receptors, and affects trafficking of partnering α and β subunits. Heterozygous Gabrg2 knock-in (KI) mice had reduced cortical inhibition, spike wave discharges on electroencephalography (EEG), a lower seizure threshold to the convulsant drug pentylenetetrazol (PTZ), and spontaneous generalized tonic-clonic seizures. In this proof-of-principal study, we attempted to rescue these deficits in KI mice using a γ2 subunit gene (GABRG2) replacement therapy.
METHODS - We introduced the GABRG2 allele by crossing Gabrg2 KI mice with bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) transgenic mice overexpressing HA (hemagglutinin)-tagged human γ2 subunits, and compared GABA receptor subunit expression by Western blot and immunohistochemical staining, seizure threshold by monitoring mouse behavior after PTZ-injection, and thalamocortical inhibition and network oscillation by slice recording.
RESULTS - Compared to KI mice, adult mice carrying both mutant allele and transgene had increased wild-type γ2 and partnering α1 and β2/3 subunits, increased miniature inhibitory postsynaptic current (mIPSC) amplitudes recorded from layer VI cortical neurons, reduced thalamocortical network oscillations, and higher PTZ seizure threshold.
SIGNIFICANCE - Based on these results we suggest that seizures in a genetic epilepsy syndrome caused by epilepsy mutant γ2(Q390X) subunits with dominant negative effects could be rescued potentially by overexpression of wild-type γ2 subunits.
Wiley Periodicals, Inc. © 2017 International League Against Epilepsy.
Although blood oxygenation level-dependent (BOLD) fMRI has been widely used to map brain responses to external stimuli and to delineate functional circuits at rest, the extent to which BOLD signals correlate spatially with underlying neuronal activity, the spatial relationships between stimulus-evoked BOLD activations and local correlations of BOLD signals in a resting state, and whether these spatial relationships vary across functionally distinct cortical areas are not known. To address these critical questions, we directly compared the spatial extents of stimulated activations and the local profiles of intervoxel resting state correlations for both high-resolution BOLD at 9.4 T and local field potentials (LFPs), using 98-channel microelectrode arrays, in functionally distinct primary somatosensory areas 3b and 1 in nonhuman primates. Anatomic images of LFP and BOLD were coregistered within 0.10 mm accuracy. We found that the point spread functions (PSFs) of BOLD and LFP responses were comparable in the stimulus condition, and both estimates of activations were slightly more spatially constrained than local correlations at rest. The magnitudes of stimulus responses in area 3b were stronger than those in area 1 and extended in a medial to lateral direction. In addition, the reproducibility and stability of stimulus-evoked activation locations within and across both modalities were robust. Our work suggests that the intrinsic resolution of BOLD is not a limiting feature in practice and approaches the intrinsic precision achievable by multielectrode electrophysiology.
Numerous functional imaging and electrophysiological studies in humans and animals indicate that the two contiguous areas of secondary somatosensory cortex (S2) and posterior insula (pIns) are core regions in nociceptive processing and pain perception. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that the S2-pIns connection serves as a hub for connecting distinct sensory and affective nociceptive processing networks in the squirrel monkey brain. At 9.4T, we first mapped the brain regions that respond to nociceptive heat stimuli with high-resolution fMRI, and then used seed-based resting-state fMRI (rsfMRI) analysis to delineate and refine the global intrinsic functional connectivity circuits of the proximal S2 and pIns regions. In each subject, nociceptive (47.5°C) heat-evoked fMRI activations were detected in many brain regions, including primary somatosensory (S1), S2, pIns, area 7b, anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), primary motor cortex, prefrontal cortex, supplementary motor area, thalamus, and caudate. Using the heat-evoked fMRI activation foci in S2 and pIns as the seeds, voxel-wise whole-brain resting-state functional connectivity (rsFC) analysis revealed strong functional connections between contralateral S2 and pIns, as well as their corresponding regions in the ipsilateral hemisphere. Spatial similarity and overlap analysis identified each region as part of two distinct intrinsic functional networks with 7% overlap: sensory S2-S1-area 7b and affective pIns-ACC-PCC networks. Moreover, a high degree of overlap was observed between the combined rsFC maps of nociceptive S2 and pIns regions and the nociceptive heat-evoked activation map. In summary, our study provides evidence for the existence of two distinct intrinsic functional networks for S2 and pIns nociceptive regions, and these two networks are joined via the S2-pIns connection. Brain regions that are involved in processing nociceptive inputs are also highly interconnected at rest. The presence of robust and distinct S1-S2-area 7b and pIns-ACC-PCC rsFC networks under anesthesia underscores their fundamental roles in processing nociceptive information.
Copyright © 2017. Published by Elsevier Inc.
Functional MRI has proven to be effective in detecting neural activity in brain cortices on the basis of blood oxygenation level dependent (BOLD) contrast, but has relatively poor sensitivity for detecting neural activity in white matter. To demonstrate that BOLD signals in white matter are detectable and contain information on neural activity, we stimulated the somatosensory system and examined distributions of BOLD signals in related white matter pathways. The temporal correlation profiles and frequency contents of BOLD signals were compared between stimulation and resting conditions, and between relevant white matter fibers and background regions, as well as between left and right side stimulations. Quantitative analyses show that, overall, MR signals from white matter fiber bundles in the somatosensory system exhibited significantly greater temporal correlations with the primary sensory cortex and greater signal power during tactile stimulations than in a resting state, and were stronger than corresponding measurements for background white matter both during stimulations and in a resting state. The temporal correlation and signal power under stimulation were found to be twice those observed from the same bundle in a resting state, and bore clear relations with the side of stimuli. These indicate that BOLD signals in white matter fibers encode neural activity related to their functional roles connecting cortical volumes, which are detectable with appropriate methods.
Copyright © 2017 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
INTRODUCTION - Correlated low-frequency fluctuations of resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rsfMRI) signals have been widely used for inferring intrinsic brain functional connectivity (FC). In animal studies, accurate estimate of anesthetic effects on rsfMRI signals is demanded for reliable interpretations of FC changes. We have previously shown that inter-regional FC can reliably delineate local millimeter-scale circuits within digit representations of primary somatosensory cortex (S1) subregions (areas 3a, 3b, and 1) in monkeys under isoflurane anesthesia. The goals of this study are to determine (1) the general effects of isoflurane on rsfMRI signals in the S1 circuit and (2) whether the effects are functional- and regional- dependent, by quantifying the relationships between isoflurane levels, power and inter-regional correlation coefficients in digit and face regions of distinct S1 subregions.
METHODS - Functional MRI data were collected from male adult squirrel monkeys at three different isoflurane levels (1.25%, 0.875%, and 0.5%). All scans were acquired on a 9.4T magnet with a 3-cm-diameter surface transmit-receive coil centered over the S1 cortex. Power and seed-based inter-regional functional connectivity analyses were subsequently performed.
RESULTS - As anesthesia level increased, we observed (1) diminishing amplitudes of signal fluctuations, (2) reduced power of fluctuations in the low-frequency band used for connectivity measurements, (3) decreased inter-voxel connectivity around seed regions, and (4) weakened inter-regional FC across all pairs of regions of interest (digit-to-digit). The low-frequency power measures derived from rsfMRI signals from control muscle regions, however, did not exhibit any isoflurane level-related changes. Within the isoflurane dosage range we tested, the inter-regional functional connectivity differences were still detectable, and the effects of isoflurane did not differ across region-of-interest (ROI) pairs.
CONCLUSION - Our data demonstrate that isoflurane induced similar dose-dependent suppressive effects on the power of rsfMRI signals and local fine-scale FC across functionally related but distinct S1 subregions.