Imaging brain activity in conscious animals using functional MRI

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Psychiatry; Department of Radiology



Document Type


Medical Subject Headings

Animals; Artifacts; Brain; Electroshock; Magnetic Resonance Imaging; Male; Motion; Rats; Rats, Sprague-Dawley; Restraint, Physical; Somatosensory Cortex




Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in humans has helped improve our understanding of the neuroanatomical organization of behavior. Unfortunately, fMRI in animal studies has not kept pace with the human work. Experiments are limited because animals must be anesthetized to prevent motion artifacts, precluding most studies involving neuroimaging of brain activity during behavior. The present study tested a newly developed head and body holder for performing fMRI in fully conscious animals. Significant changes in signal intensities were observed in the somatosensory cortex of conscious rats in response to electrical shock of the hindpaw. These changes in evoked signal ranged between 4 and 19% and were accompanied by significant increases in local cerebral blood flow. The fMRI study was performed with a 2.0-Tesla spectrometer. Using this non-invasive method of imaging brain activity in conscious animals, it is now possible to perform developmental studies in animal models of neurological and psychiatric disorders.

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Citation: J Neurosci Methods. 1998 Jul 1;82(1):75-83.

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