The cerebral response to electrical stimuli in the oesophagus is altered by increasing stimulus frequencies
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Recording of cerebral evoked responses (EP) allows the assessment of visceral afferent pathways and gut-brain communication, but the optimal stimulation parameters remain to be established. The present study determined the optimal stimulation frequency of electrical stimulation of the oesophagus to elicit EP responses. In 13 healthy male volunteers (24.1 +/- 5.9 years), a 5 mm stainless-steel electrode was placed in the distal oesophagus for electrical stimulation (ES). EP were recorded from 21 scalp electrodes placed according to the 10/20 International system. ES (15 mA, 200 microseconds) were delivered in repeated series of 24 stimuli. Stimulus frequency was randomly altered in different series using a pseudologarithmic range (0.1, 0.2, 0.3, 0.5, and 1 Hz). Two series of stimuli were applied using each stimulation frequency. Two-dimensional topographic brain maps were created using interpolation techniques at each stimulation frequency. With increasing stimulus frequency, a significant and progressive decrease of EP amplitudes was observed between frequencies of 0.1 Hz and 1.0 Hz (P1/N2: 7.6 +/- 1.2 vs 1.4 +/- 0.3* microV, N2/P2: 17.2 +/- 1.7 vs 4.6 +/- 0.4* microV, P2/N3: 6.9 +/- 0.7 vs 4.2 +/- 0.5* microV; * = P < 0.05). In addition, there was a significant shortening of the mean peak latency of the intercalated P2 peak (P < 0.0005), with a similar trend for the P3 peak (P < 0.06), with increasing stimulus frequency from 0.1-1.0 Hz. Topographic brain maps localized the maximal early peaks (N1,P1.N2) in the paracentral cortical region (C3, Cz, C4), whereas the later peaks (P2 to P3) were symmetrically spread over the centroparietal and temporal regions (Cz, Pz, T5, T4). There was no difference in the cortical location of maximal EP amplitudes with increasing stimulus frequency. In conclusion, there is a clear relationship between stimulus frequency and amplitude of EP, suggesting rapid attenuation of the cerebral autonomic neural responses with increased electrical stimulation frequency. The effect of increased frequency on peak latencies suggests an alteration of stimulus processing in the thalamocortical region due to an altered perception of stimuli. Early EP peaks originate from basal structures of primarily the dominant hemisphere, while later peaks are localized in centroparietal cortical regions.
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