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BackWards - Unveiling the brain's topographic organization of paraspinal sensory input


Guekos, Alexandros; Cole, David M; Dörig, Monika; Stämpfli, Philipp; Schibli, Louis; Schuetz, Philipp; Schweinhardt, Petra; Meier, Michael L (2023). BackWards - Unveiling the brain's topographic organization of paraspinal sensory input. NeuroImage, 283:120431.

Abstract

Cortical reorganization and its potential pathological significance are being increasingly studied in musculoskeletal disorders such as chronic low back pain (CLBP) patients. However, detailed sensory-topographic maps of the human back are lacking, and a baseline characterization of such representations, reflecting the somatosensory organization of the healthy back, is needed before exploring potential sensory map reorganization. To this end, a novel pneumatic vibrotactile stimulation method was used to stimulate paraspinal sensory afferents, while studying their cortical representations in unprecedented detail. In 41 young healthy participants, vibrotactile stimulations at 20 Hz and 80 Hz were applied bilaterally at nine locations along the thoracolumbar axis while functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was performed. Model-based whole-brain searchlight representational similarity analysis (RSA) was used to investigate the organizational structure of brain activity patterns evoked by thoracolumbar sensory inputs. A model based on segmental distances best explained the similarity structure of brain activity patterns that were located in different areas of sensorimotor cortices, including the primary somatosensory and motor cortices and parts of the superior parietal cortex, suggesting that these brain areas process sensory input from the back in a "dermatomal" manner. The current findings provide a sound basis for testing the "cortical map reorganization theory" and its pathological relevance in CLBP.

Abstract

Cortical reorganization and its potential pathological significance are being increasingly studied in musculoskeletal disorders such as chronic low back pain (CLBP) patients. However, detailed sensory-topographic maps of the human back are lacking, and a baseline characterization of such representations, reflecting the somatosensory organization of the healthy back, is needed before exploring potential sensory map reorganization. To this end, a novel pneumatic vibrotactile stimulation method was used to stimulate paraspinal sensory afferents, while studying their cortical representations in unprecedented detail. In 41 young healthy participants, vibrotactile stimulations at 20 Hz and 80 Hz were applied bilaterally at nine locations along the thoracolumbar axis while functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was performed. Model-based whole-brain searchlight representational similarity analysis (RSA) was used to investigate the organizational structure of brain activity patterns evoked by thoracolumbar sensory inputs. A model based on segmental distances best explained the similarity structure of brain activity patterns that were located in different areas of sensorimotor cortices, including the primary somatosensory and motor cortices and parts of the superior parietal cortex, suggesting that these brain areas process sensory input from the back in a "dermatomal" manner. The current findings provide a sound basis for testing the "cortical map reorganization theory" and its pathological relevance in CLBP.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Balgrist University Hospital, Swiss Spinal Cord Injury Center
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Scopus Subject Areas:Life Sciences > Neurology
Life Sciences > Cognitive Neuroscience
Uncontrolled Keywords:Chronic low back pain; Cortical maps; Representational similarity analysis
Language:English
Date:1 December 2023
Deposited On:30 Jan 2024 16:25
Last Modified:30 Apr 2024 01:48
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:1053-8119
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2023.120431
PubMed ID:37914091
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)