November 28, 2020

Measurement of stretch-evoked brainstem function using fMRI

Knowledge on the organization of motor function in the reticulospinal tract (RST) is limited by the lack of methods for measuring RST function in humans. Behavioral studies suggest the involvement of the RST in long latency responses (LLRs).

LLRs, elicited by precisely controlled perturbations, can therefore act as a viable paradigm to measure motor-related RST activity using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI).

Here we present StretchfMRI, a novel technique developed to study RST function associated with LLRs. StretchfMRI combines robotic perturbations with electromyography and fMRI to simultaneously quantify muscular and neural activity during stretch-evoked LLRs without loss of reliability. Using StretchfMRI, we established the muscle-specific organization of LLR activity in the brainstem. The observed organization is partially consistent with animal models, with activity primarily in the ipsilateral medulla for flexors and in the contralateral pons for extensors, but also include other areas, such as the midbrain and bilateral pontomedullary contributions.

 bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience

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