Robust S1, S2, and thalamic activations in individual subjects with vibrotactile stimulation at 1.5 and 3.0 T

Hum Brain Mapp. 2009 Apr;30(4):1328-37. doi: 10.1002/hbm.20598.


Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) is often used to enhance visualization and provide target localization during the planning phase of neurosurgical procedures. Although parametric maps have been used to identify areas of eloquent cortex such as the primary (S1) and secondary (S2) somatosensory areas for tumor surgery, to date, few fMRI methods exist to localize subcortical targets for surgical interventions used to treat movement disorders. The scanning time required to obtain statistically significant functional signals must be balanced against the possibility of movement artifacts and patient discomfort. We propose a vibrotactile stimulation technique to activate the somatosensory pathway for neurosurgical planning and perform a sensitivity analysis to determine the amount of time required to achieve significant activations of S1, S2, and sensory thalamus in individual subjects. Bilateral stimulation experiments were carried out on two MRI scanners (n = 13 at 1.5 T; n = 5 at 3.0 T). The analysis demonstrates that statistically significant functional activations can be achieved in clinically acceptable times: 16 min at 1.5 T (26/26 experiments) and 6 min at 3.0 T (10/10) for S1 activations; 24 min at 1.5 T (22/26) and 18 min at 3.0 T for S2 activations (9/10); and 32 min at 1.5 T (15/26) and 18 min at 3.0 T (10/10) for activation of thalamic nuclei. These results demonstrate that S1 and S2 activations are robust at 1.5 and 3.0 T, and that robust thalamic activations in individual subjects are possible at 3.0 T. These techniques demonstrate that this technique can be used for preoperative planning for surgical candidates.

MeSH terms

  • Brain Mapping*
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted / methods
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Neural Pathways / blood supply
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Oxygen / blood
  • Physical Stimulation / methods
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Somatosensory Cortex / anatomy & histology
  • Somatosensory Cortex / blood supply
  • Somatosensory Cortex / physiology*
  • Thalamus / blood supply
  • Thalamus / physiology*
  • Touch / physiology*
  • Vibration*


  • Oxygen