An fMRI study of naturalistic stimulation of the rats whiskers
Devonshire I, Overton P, Mayhew J, Papadakis N
University of Sheffield
An MRI-compatible paradigm for naturalistic stimulation of the rats whiskers was developed using air-puffs. It was applied in a CBV (MION) fMRI study of the anaesthetised rat using an open access volume coil and multi-slice spin-echo EPI. Robust CBV responses were elicited in the cortex and brainstem. Activation in thalamic nuclei was observed inconsistently, due to their small spatial extent. As air-puff stimuli are known to better mimic sensory interactions that occur in behavioural conditions, they are well suited to investigations into the mechanisms of sensory transduction and response modulation. Consequently, fMRI techniques can now be applied to such investigations.