Real-Time Cerebral Hemodynamic Response to Tactile Somatosensory Stimulation

Benjamin Hage, Emily Way, Steven M. Barlow, Gregory R. Bashford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Recent studies in rodents suggest that somatosensory stimulation could provide neuroprotection during ischemic stroke by inducing plasticity in the cortex–vasculature relationship. While functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) has shown that somatosensory stimulation increases cerebral blood flow (CBF) over several seconds, subsecond changes in CBF in the basal cerebral arteries have rarely been studied due to temporal resolution limitations. This study characterized hemodynamic changes in the middle cerebral arteries (MCAs) during somatosensory stimulation with high temporal resolution (100 samples/s) using functional transcranial Doppler ultrasound (fTCD). METHODS: Pneumotactile somatosensory stimulation, consisting of punctate pressure pulses traversing the glabrous skin of the hand at 25 cm/s, was used to induce CBF velocity (CBFV) response curves. Changes in CBFV were measured in the bilateral MCAs using fTCD. All 12 subjects underwent three consecutive trials consisting of 20 seconds of stimulation followed by 5 minutes of rest. RESULTS: Sharp, bilateral increases in CBFV of about 20% (left MCA = 20.5%, right MCA = 18.8%) and sharp decreases in pulsatility index of about 8% were observed during stimulation. Left lateralization of up to 3.9% was also observed. The magnitude of the initial increase in CBFV showed significant adaptation between subsequent trials. CONCLUSIONS: Pneumotactile somatosensory stimulation is a potent stimulus that can evoke large, rapid hemodynamic changes, with adaptation between successive stimulus applications. Due to its high temporal resolution, fTCD is useful for identifying quickly evolving hemodynamic responses, and for correlating changes in hemodynamic parameters such as pulsatility index (PI) and CBFV.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)615-620
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Neuroimaging
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2018


  • Doppler
  • Ultrasonography
  • hemodynamics
  • neuroprotection
  • transcranial

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Clinical Neurology


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