Steady-state activation in somatosensory cortex after changes in stimulus rate during median nerve stimulation

Paolo Manganotti, Emanuela Formaggio, Silvia Francesca Storti, Mirko Avesani, Michele Acler, Francesco Sala, Stefano Magon, Giada Zoccatelli, Francesca Pizzini, Franco Alessandrini, Antonio Fiaschi, Alberto Beltramello

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Passive electrical stimulation activates various human somatosensory cortical systems including the contralateral primary somatosensory area (SI), bilateral secondary somatosensory area (SII) and bilateral insula. The effect of stimulation frequency on blood oxygenation level-dependent (BOLD) activity remains unclear. We acquired 3-T functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in eight healthy volunteers during electrical median nerve stimulation at frequencies of 1, 3 and 10 Hz. During stimulation BOLD signal changes showed activation in the contralateral SI, bilateral SII and bilateral insula. Results of fMRI analysis showed that these areas were progressively active with the increase of rate of stimulation. As a major finding, the contralateral SI showed an increase of peak of BOLD activation from 1 to 3 Hz but reached a plateau during 10-Hz stimulation. Our finding is of interest for basic research and for clinical applications in subjects unable to perform cognitive tasks in the fMRI scanner.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1175-1186
Number of pages12
JournalMagnetic Resonance Imaging
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2009


  • 3T
  • BOLD
  • fMRI
  • SEP
  • Stimulation frequency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Biomedical Engineering


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