Design and Application of a New Automated Fluidic Visceral Stimulation Device for Human fMRI Studies of Interoception

Behnaz Jarrahi, Roger Gassert, Johann Wanek, Lars Michels, Ulrich Mehnert, Spyros S. Kollias
2016 IEEE Journal of Translational Engineering in Health and Medicine  
Mapping the brain centers that mediate the sensory-perceptual processing of visceral afferent signals arising from the body (i.e., interoception) is useful both for characterizing normal brain activity and for understanding clinical disorders related to abnormal processing of visceral sensation. Here, we report a novel closed-system, electrohydrostatically driven master-slave device that was designed and constructed for delivering controlled fluidic stimulations of visceral organs and inner
more » ... ties of the human body within the confines of a 3T magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner. The design concept and performance of the device in the MRI environment are described. In addition, the device was applied during a functional MRI (fMRI) investigation of visceral stimulation related to detrusor distention in two representative subjects to verify its feasibility in humans. System evaluation tests demonstrate that the device is MR-compatible with negligible impact on imaging quality [static signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) loss <2.5% and temporal SNR loss <3.5%], and has an accuracy of 99.68% for flow rate and 99.27% for volume delivery. A precise synchronization of the stimulus delivery with fMRI slice acquisition was achieved by programming the proposed device to detect the 5 V transistor-transistor logic (TTL) trigger signals generated by the MRI scanner. The fMRI data analysis using the general linear model analysis with the standard hemodynamic response function showed increased activations in the network of brain regions that included the insula, anterior and mid-cingulate and lateral prefrontal cortices, and thalamus in response to increased distension pressure on viscera. The translation from manually operated devices to an MR-compatible and MR-synchronized device under automatic control represents a useful innovation for clinical neuroimaging studies of human interoception. ABSTRACT Mapping the brain centers that mediate the sensory-perceptual processing of visceral afferent signals arising from the body (i.e., interoception) is useful both for characterizing normal brain activity and for understanding clinical disorders related to abnormal processing of visceral sensation. Here, we report a novel closed-system, electrohydrostatically driven master-slave device that was designed and constructed for delivering controlled fluidic stimulations of visceral organs and inner cavities of the human body within the confines of a 3T magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner. The design concept and performance of the device in the MRI environment are described. In addition, the device was applied during a functional MRI (fMRI) investigation of visceral stimulation related to detrusor distention in two representative subjects to verify its feasibility in humans. System evaluation tests demonstrate that the device is MR-compatible with negligible impact on imaging quality [static signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) loss <2.5% and temporal SNR loss <3.5%], and has an accuracy of 99.68% for flow rate and 99.27% for volume delivery. A precise synchronization of the stimulus delivery with fMRI slice acquisition was achieved by programming the proposed device to detect the 5 V transistor-transistor logic (TTL) trigger signals generated by the MRI scanner. The fMRI data analysis using the general linear model analysis with the standard hemodynamic response function showed increased activations in the network of brain regions that included the insula, anterior and midcingulate and lateral prefrontal cortices, and thalamus in response to increased distension pressure on viscera. The translation from manually operated devices to an MR-compatible and MR-synchronized device under automatic control represents a useful innovation for clinical neuroimaging studies of human interoception. INDEX TERMS MR-compatible sensors and actuators, fMRI, electrohydrostatic actuation, automation, visceral afferent processing.
doi:10.1109/jtehm.2016.2538239 pmid:27551646 pmcid:PMC4991687 fatcat:5o3lahkqajeyfles25azqnmhnq