New devices to deliver somatosensory stimuli during functional MRI
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A new class of devices are described for improving investigation of somatosensory neuronal activation using fMRI. Dubbed magnetomechanical vibrotactile devices (MVDs), the principle of operation involves driving wire coils with small oscillatory currents in the large static magnetic field inherent to MRI scanners. The resulting Lorentz forces can be oriented to generate large vibrations that are easily converted to translational motions as large as several centimeters. Representative data demonstrate the flexibility of MVDs to generate different well-controlled vibratory and tactile stimuli to activate special proprioceptive and cutaneous somatosensory afferent pathways. The implications of these data are discussed with respect to the literature on existing devices for producing sensorimotor activation, as well as expanding the scope of current fMRI investigations.
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