Antoin de Weijer, an alumnus of the STARlab, managed to get his paper entitled "A setup for administering TMS to medial and lateral cortical areas during whole brain fMRI recording" accepted for publication in the Journal of Clinical Neurophysiology, a respected journal in the field. This work was performed as part of his PhD thesis during his time at the STARlab (click here for details). This is an important advancement to investigate brain function and dysfunction of connections between brain areas in patients in a higly controlled manner, as we induce the brain activation ourselves at predetermined intervals, and can measure the effects directly.
In this paper, we demonstrate and describe our novel concurrent TMS/fMRI technique, where we can administer TMS to the brain inside an MRI scanner, and measure the effects on brain activation at the same time. As special MR receive coils are used, TMS during fMRI can now even be administered to lateral brain areas, while activation in the entire brain is recorded. To accomplish this, we adopted a technique to interleave Echo Planar Image readout and TMS pulse administration, effectively preventing disturbance of the measurements. Also, the mechanical properties of the setup were very important, as vibrations needed to be damped effectively, and safety of the participants guaranteed. Finally, we can now also determine the exact location in the brain that was stimulated, using a unique combination of our own MRI guided Navigation system and tracking of the TMS coil and its pulse center inside the MR bore.
To accomplish all this, the neuroscientists of the STARlab closely collaborated with MR and TMS coil experts at the image science division of the UMCU, with the Medical Technology department of the UMCU, with Sven Bestmann, a pioneer on this technique from University College London, and medical doctors who want to deploy this technique clinically. Only this joint effort made it possible. We thank all collaborators and co authors for their contribution.
AD de Weijer, IEC Sommer, EJ Bakker, M Bloemendaal, CJG Bakker, DWJ Klomp, S Bestmann and SFW Neggers. A setup for administering TMS to medial and lateral cortical areas during whole brain fMRI recording. Journal of Clinical Neurophysiology (in press).