Impact of HIV-infection on human somatosensory processing, spontaneous cortical activity, and cortical thickness: A multimodal neuroimaging approach

Chloe C. Casagrande, Brandon J. Lew, Brittany K. Taylor, Mikki Schantell, Jennifer O'Neill, Pamela E. May, Susan Swindells, Tony W. Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


HIV-infection has been associated with widespread alterations in brain structure and function, although few studies have examined whether such aberrations are co-localized and the degree to which clinical and cognitive metrics are related. We examine this question in the somatosensory system using high-resolution structural MRI (sMRI) and magnetoencephalographic (MEG) imaging of neural oscillatory activity. Forty-four participants with HIV (PWH) and 55 demographically-matched uninfected controls completed a paired-pulse somatosensory stimulation paradigm during MEG and underwent 3T sMRI. MEG data were transformed into the time-frequency domain; significant sensor level responses were imaged using a beamformer. Virtual sensor time series were derived from the peak responses. These data were used to compute response amplitude, sensory gating metrics, and spontaneous cortical activity power. The T1-weighted sMRI data were processed using morphological methods to derive cortical thickness values across the brain. From these, the cortical thickness of the tissue coinciding with the peak response was estimated. Our findings indicated both PWH and control exhibit somatosensory gating, and that spontaneous cortical activity was significantly stronger in PWH within the left postcentral gyrus. Interestingly, within the same tissue, PWH also had significantly reduced cortical thickness relative to controls. Follow-up analyses indicated that the reduction in cortical thickness was significantly correlated with CD4 nadir and mediated the relationship between HIV and spontaneous cortical activity within the left postcentral gyrus. These data indicate that PWH have abnormally strong spontaneous cortical activity in the left postcentral gyrus and such elevated activity is driven by locally reduced cortical gray matter thickness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2851-2861
Number of pages11
JournalHuman Brain Mapping
Issue number9
StatePublished - Jun 15 2021


  • MRI
  • gamma oscillations
  • magnetoencephalography
  • somatosensory gating
  • voxel-based morphometry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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