Deep brain stimulation with simultaneous fMRI in rodents

John Robert Younce, Daniel L. Albaugh, Yen Yu Ian Shih

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


In order to visualize the global and downstream neuronal responses to deep brain stimulation (DBS) at various targets, we have developed a protocol for using blood oxygen level dependent (BOLD) functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to image rodents with simultaneous DBS. DBS fMRI presents a number of technical challenges, including accuracy of electrode implantation, MR artifacts created by the electrode, choice of anesthesia and paralytic to minimize any neuronal effects while simultaneously eliminating animal motion, and maintenance of physiological parameters, deviation from which can confound the BOLD signal. Our laboratory has developed a set of procedures that are capable of overcoming most of these possible issues. For electrical stimulation, a homemade tungsten bipolar microelectrode is used, inserted stereotactically at the stimulation site in the anesthetized subject. In preparation for imaging, rodents are fixed on a plastic headpiece and transferred to the magnet bore. For sedation and paralysis during scanning, a cocktail of dexmedetomidine and pancuronium is continuously infused, along with a minimal dose of isoflurane; this preparation minimizes the BOLD ceiling effect of volatile anesthetics. In this example experiment, stimulation of the subthalamic nucleus (STN) produces BOLD responses which are observed primarily in ipsilateral cortical regions, centered in motor cortex. Simultaneous DBS and fMRI allows the unambiguous modulation of neural circuits dependent on stimulation location and stimulation parameters, and permits observation of neuronal modulations free of regional bias. This technique may be used to explore the downstream effects of modulating neural circuitry at nearly any brain region, with implications for both experimental and clinical DBS.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere51271
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Issue number84
StatePublished - Feb 15 2014


  • Animal
  • Animal experimentation
  • Blood oxygen level dependent (BOLD)
  • Deep brain stimulation (DBS)
  • Electric stimulation therapy
  • Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)
  • Functional neuroimaging
  • Immobilization
  • Intubation
  • Issue 84
  • Models
  • Neuroimaging
  • Neuroscience
  • Rodent
  • Stereotaxic techniques
  • Subthalamic nucleus


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