An fMRI Compatible Wrist Robotic Interface to Study Brain Development in Neonates

Abstract

A comprehensive understanding of the mechanisms that underlie brain development in premature infants and newborns is crucial for the identification of interventional therapies and rehabilitative strategies. fMRI has the potential to identify such mechanisms, but standard techniques used in adults cannot be implemented in infant studies in a straightforward manner. We have developed an MR safe wrist stimulating robot to systematically investigate the functional brain activity related to both spontaneous and induced wrist movements in premature babies using fMRI. We present the technical aspects of this development and the results of validation experiments. Using the device, the cortical activity associated with both active and passive finger movements were reliably identified in a healthy adult subject. In two preterm infants, passive wrist movements induced a well localized positive BOLD response in the contralateral somatosensory cortex. Furthermore, in a single preterm infant, spontaneous wrist movements were found to be associated with an adjacent cluster of activity, at the level of the infant’s primary motor cortex. The described device will allow detailed and objective fMRI studies of somatosensory and motor system development during early human life and following neonatal brain injury.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Figure 1
Figure 2
Figure 3
Figure 4
Figure 5
Figure 6
Figure 7
Figure 8
Figure 9

References

  1. 1.

    Arichi, T., et al. Somatosensory cortical activation identified by functional MRI in preterm and term infants. NeuroImage 49(3):2063–2071, 2010.

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  2. 2.

    Arichi, T., et al. Development of BOLD signal hemodynamic responses in the human brain. NeuroImage 63:663–673, 2012.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    AVAGO. HEDS-5701#G00 Datasheet. Accessed 1 October 2011 from http://www.datasheetarchive.com/HEDS-5701-G00*-datasheet.html.

  4. 4.

    Bandettini, P. A., et al. Time course EPI of human brain function during task activation. Magn. Reson. Med. 25(2):390–397, 1992.

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    Berns, G. S., A. W. Song, and H. Mao. Continuous functional magnetic resonance imaging reveals dynamic nonlinearities of “dose-response” curves for finger opposition. J. Neurosci. 19(14):RC17, 1999.

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    Boynton, G. M., et al. Linear systems analysis of functional magnetic resonance imaging in human V1. J. Neurosci. 16(13):4207–4221, 1996.

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  7. 7.

    Dubowitz, L. M. S., V. Dubowitz, and E. Mercuri. The Neurological Assessment of the Preterm & Full-Term Newborn Infant. London: Mac Keith, 1999.

    Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

    Erberich, S. G., et al. Functional MRI in neonates using neonatal head coil and MR compatible incubator. NeuroImage 20(2):683–692, 2003.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  9. 9.

    Erberich, S. G., et al. Somatosensory lateralization in the newborn brain. NeuroImage 29(1):155–161, 2006.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  10. 10.

    FESTO. MPPES Pressure Sensor Datasheet. Accessed 1 October 2011 from http://www.festo.com/net/SupportPortal/Downloads/26930/info_241_en.pdf.

  11. 11.

    Gassert, R., E. Burdet, and K. Chinzei. Opportunities and challenges in MR-compatible robotics: reviewing the history, mechatronic components, and future directions of this technology. IEEE Eng. Med. Biol. Mag. 27(3):15–22, 2008.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  12. 12.

    Gassert, R., E. Burdet, and K. Chinzei. MRI-compatible robotics. IEEE Eng. Med. Biol. Mag. 27(3):12–14, 2008.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  13. 13.

    Heep, A., et al. Functional magnetic resonance imaging of the sensorimotor system in preterm infants. Pediatrics 123(1):294–300, 2009.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  14. 14.

    Johnston, M. V. Plasticity in the developing brain: implications for rehabilitation. Dev. Disabil. Res. Rev. 15(2):94–101, 2009.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  15. 15.

    Klingner, C. M., et al. Functional deactivations: multiple ipsilateral brain areas engaged in the processing of somatosensory information. Hum. Brain Mapp. 32(1):127–140, 2011.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  16. 16.

    Kuang, K. S. C., W. J. Cantwell, and P. J. Scully. An evaluation of a novel plastic optical fibre sensor for axial strain and bend measurements. Meas. Sci. Technol. 13(10):1523–1534, 2002.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  17. 17.

    Kuehn, B. M. FDA warning: remove drug patches before MRI to prevent burns to skin. JAMA 301(13):1328, 2009.

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  18. 18.

    Larroque, B., et al. Neurodevelopmental disabilities and special care of 5-year-old children born before 33 weeks of gestation (the EPIPAGE study): a longitudinal cohort study. Lancet 371(9615):813–820, 2008.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  19. 19.

    Mangham, L. J., et al. The cost of preterm birth throughout childhood in England and Wales. Pediatrics 123(2):e312–e327, 2009.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  20. 20.

    Martin, J. A., et al. Births: final data for 2004. Natl Vital Stat. Rep. 55(1):1–101, 2006.

    Google Scholar 

  21. 21.

    Martin, J. A., et al. Births: final data for 2005. Natl Vital Stat. Rep. 56(6):1–103, 2007.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  22. 22.

    Martin, J. A., et al. Births: final data for 2007. Natl Vital Stat. Rep. 58(24):1–85, 2010.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  23. 23.

    Measurand. S720 MINIATURE JOINT ANGLE ShapeSensor, 2010. Accessed 1 October 2011 from http://www.measurand.com/manuals/S720.pdf.

  24. 24.

    Merchant, N., et al. A patient care system for early 3.0 Tesla magnetic resonance imaging of very low birth weight infants. Early Hum. Dev. 85(12):779–783, 2009.

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  25. 25.

    National Instruments Corporation. NI USB-6211 DATASHEET. NI USB-6211 16-Bit, 250 kS/s M Series Multifunction DAQ, Bus-Powered Online Datasheet, 2012. Accessed 20 February 2012 from http://sine.ni.com/nips/cds/print/p/lang/en/nid/203224.

  26. 26.

    Ogawa, S., et al. Brain magnetic resonance imaging with contrast dependent on blood oxygenation. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 87(24):9868–9872, 1990.

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  27. 27.

    PAR-Group. ABS Technical Information. PAR Group-ABS Technical Information, 2011. Accessed 1 October 2011 from http://www.par-group.co.uk/UserDocs/Plastics%20-%20Technical/ABS.pdf.

  28. 28.

    Seghier, M. L., and P. S. Huppi. The role of functional magnetic resonance imaging in the study of brain development, injury, and recovery in the newborn. Semin. Perinatol. 34(1):79–86, 2010.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  29. 29.

    Staple, D. Lego Pneumatic Specifications. 2005 Tuesday 18 of January, 2005 16:03:33 GMT, 2005. Accessed 1 October 2011 from http://orionrobots.co.uk/Lego+Pneumatic+Specifications.

  30. 30.

    Staudt, M. Brain plasticity following early life brain injury: insights from neuroimaging. Semin. Perinatol. 34(1):87–92, 2010.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  31. 31.

    Van Dijk, K. R., M. R. Sabuncu, and R. L. Buckner. The influence of head motion on intrinsic functional connectivity MRI. NeuroImage 59(1):431–438, 2012.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  32. 32.

    Zhang, N., et al. Dependence of BOLD signal change on tactile stimulus intensity in SI of primates. Magn. Reson. Imaging 25(6):784–794, 2007.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgments

This study was funded in full by a Biomedical Research Center (BRC) project grant. AA was supported by a PhD studentship from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) UK. TA was supported by a fellowship from the Medical Research Council (MRC) UK. The authors thank Dr Nathanael Jarrassé, Dr Sivakumar Balasubramanian, and Dr Nicholas Roach for their technical assistance throughout the development of the device, Ms Joanna Allsop for her contribution during the experimental phase of the study, Mr Richard Woodward and the parents of the patients for agreeing participation in the study.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to A. G. Allievi.

Additional information

Associate Editor Xiaoxiang Zheng oversaw the review of this article.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Allievi, A.G., Melendez-Calderon, A., Arichi, T. et al. An fMRI Compatible Wrist Robotic Interface to Study Brain Development in Neonates. Ann Biomed Eng 41, 1181–1192 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10439-013-0782-x

Download citation

Keywords

  • Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)
  • MRI-compatible robot
  • Fibre optic sensor
  • MR safe
  • Neural correlates
  • Cortical activation
  • Primary motor cortex
  • Somatosensory cortex
  • Premature birth
  • Newborn brain
  • Cerebral palsy