Spatial normalization, bulk motion correction and coregistration for functional magnetic resonance imaging of the human cervical spinal cord and brainstem.
ABSTRACT Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) of the cortex is a powerful tool for neuroscience research, and its use has been extended into the brainstem and spinal cord as well. However, there are significant technical challenges with extrapolating the developments that have been achieved in the cortex to their use in the brainstem and spinal cord. Here, we develop a normalized coordinate system for the cervical spinal cord and brainstem, demonstrating a semiautomated method for spatially normalizing and coregistering fMRI data from these regions. fMRI data from 24 experiments in eight volunteers are normalized and combined to create the first anatomical reference volume, and based on this volume, we define a standardized region-of-interest (ROI) mask, as well as a map of 52 anatomical regions, which can be applied automatically to fMRI results. The normalization is demonstrated to have an accuracy of less than 2 mm in 93% of anatomical test points. The reverse of the normalization procedure is also demonstrated for automatic alignment of the standardized ROI mask and region-label map with fMRI data in its original (unnormalized) format. A reliable method for spatially normalizing fMRI data is essential for analyses of group data and for assessing the effects of spinal cord injury or disease on an individual basis by comparing with results from healthy subjects.
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ABSTRACT: To develop a spinal functional MRI (fMRI) method with three-dimensional coverage of a large extent of the spinal cord with minimal partial volume effects fMRI data of the cervical spinal cord were obtained at 1.5 T with a single-shot fast spin-echo imaging method, from thin contiguous sagittal slices spanning the cord. Thermal stimulation was applied to the palm of the hand in a block pattern with 15 degrees C for stimulation and 32 degrees C during baseline periods. Prior to analysis, the image data at each time point were reformatted into three-dimensional volumes and resliced perfectly transverse to the spinal cord. Smoothing was applied only in the superior-inferior (S/I) direction across uniform tissue types. Active voxels were then identified by means of a correlation to a model paradigm. The resulting activity maps demonstrate activity primarily in ipsilateral sensory areas and in some motor areas, consistent with the spinal cord neuroanatomy. These data also demonstrate detail of the subsegmental organization of the spinal cord, as well as anatomical detail of the spinous processes and positions of nerve roots. The spinal fMRI method described enables large volume coverage of the spinal cord in three dimensions, with reliable and reproducible results.Journal of Magnetic Resonance Imaging 06/2005; 21(5):520-6. · 2.57 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Functional imaging techniques have allowed researchers to look within the brain, and revealed the cortical representation of pain. Initial experiments, performed in the early 1990s, revolutionized pain research, as they demonstrated that pain was not processed in a single cortical area, but in several distributed brain regions. Over the last decade, the roles of these pain centres have been investigated and a clearer picture has emerged of the medial and lateral pain system. In this brief article, we review the imaging literature to date that has allowed these advances to be made, and examine the new frontiers for pain imaging research: imaging the brainstem and other structures involved in the descending control of pain; functional and anatomical connectivity studies of pain processing brain regions; imaging models of neuropathic pain-like states; and going beyond the brain to image spinal function. The ultimate goal of such research is to take these new techniques into the clinic, to investigate and provide new remedies for chronic pain sufferers.Journal of Anatomy 08/2005; 207(1):19-33. · 2.36 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Pain is an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience usually triggered by stimulation of peripheral nerves and often associated with actual or potential tissue damage. It is well known that pain perception for patients and normal subjects can be modulated by psychological factors, such as attention, stress, and arousal. Our understanding of how this modulation occurs at a neuroanatomical level is poor. Here we neuroanatomically defined a key area in the network of brain regions active in response to pain that is modulated by attention to the painful stimulus. High-resolution functional magnetic resonance imaging was used to define brain activation to painful heat stimulation applied to the hand of nine normal subjects within the periaqueductal gray region. Subjects were asked to either focus on or distract themselves from the painful stimuli, which were cued using colored lights. During the distraction condition, subjects rated the pain intensity as significantly lower compared with when they attended to the stimulus. Activation in the periaqueductal gray was significantly increased during the distraction condition, and the total increase in activation was predictive of changes in perceived intensity. This provides direct evidence supporting the notion that the periaqueductal gray is a site for higher cortical control of pain modulation in humans.Journal of Neuroscience 05/2002; 22(7):2748-52. · 6.91 Impact Factor