January 21, 2021

Phase-locking of resting-state brain networks with the gastric basal electrical rhythm

A network of myenteric interstitial cells of Cajal in the corpus of the stomach serves as its "pacemaker", continuously generating a ca. 0.05 Hz electrical slow wave, which is transmitted to the brain chiefly by vagal afferents. A recent study combining resting-state functional MRI (rsfMRI) with concurrent surface electrogastrography (EGG), with cutaneous electrodes placed on the epigastrium, found 12 brain regions with activity that was significantly phase-locked with this gastric basal electrical rhythm. Therefore, we asked whether fluctuations in brain resting state networks (RSNs), estimated using a spatial independent component analysis (ICA) approach, might be synchronized with the stomach. In the present study, in order to determine whether any RSNs are phase-locked with the gastric rhythm, an individual participant underwent 22 scanning sessions; in each, two 15-minute runs of concurrent EGG and rsfMRI data were acquired. EGG data from three sessions had weak gastric signals and were excluded; the other 19 sessions yielded a total of 9.5 hours of data. The rsfMRI data were analyzed using group ICA; RSN time courses were estimated using dual regression; for each run, the phase-locking value (PLV) was computed between each RSN and the gastric signal. To assess statistical significance, PLVs from all pairs of "mismatched" data (EGG and rsfMRI data acquired on different days) were used as surrogate data to generate a null distribution for each RSN. Of a total of 18 RSNs, three were found to be significantly phase-locked with the basal gastric rhythm, namely, a cerebellar network, a dorsal somatosensory-motor network, and a default mode network. Disruptions to the gut-brain axis, which sustains interoceptive feedback between the central nervous system and the viscera, are thought to be involved in various disorders; manifestation of the infra-slow rhythm of the stomach in brain rsfMRI data could be useful for studies in clinical populations.

 bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience

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