To investigate the effect of electrical stimulation of the nerve afferents of the hand on cortical activity elicited by whole-hand subthreshold stimulation for sensation in healthy human subjects.Methods:
Ten healthy volunteers were studied using BOLD-fMRI with 1) a test motor-task with finger-to-thumb tapping of the left hand, 2) a whole-hand afferent electrical stimulation of the left hand below the sensory level for sensation for 30 minutes, 3) a second fMRI run with the same paradigm as in the test motor-task immediately after electrical stimulation, and 4) a final identical fMRI run 2 hours post-stimulation to test the cortical changes induced by electrical stimulation. Experiments were carried out on a 1.5 T MR scanner and for fMRI echoplanar sequences were used. Data analysis was performed with SPM99.Results:
An increase of movement-related responses was seen within the primary motor and primary somatosensory areas of both hemispheres when comparing the test motor-task with the motor-task after electrical stimulation relative to the baseline or sham stimulation. Two hours post-stimulation the modulatory effects of mesh-glove stimulation diminished to baseline level except within the contralateral primary motor region.Conclusions:
The increased BOLD response spatially localized within the sensorimotor cortex reflects an increase in neuronal activity that may provide augmented neuronal excitability.