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Bögle, Rainer; Stephan, Thomas; Ertl, Matthias; Glasauer, Stefan; Dieterich, Marianne (2016): Magnetic vestibular stimulation modulates default mode network fluctuations. In: Neuroimage, Vol. 127: pp. 409-421
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Strong magnetic fields (>1 Tesla) can cause dizziness and it was recently shown that healthy subjects (resting in total darkness) developed a persistent nystagmus even when remaining completely motionless within a MR tomograph. Consequently, it was speculated that this magnetic vestibular stimulation (MVS) might influence fMRI results, as nystagmus is indicative of an imbalance in the vestibular system, potentially influencing other systems via multisensory vestibular interactions. The objective of our study was to investigate whether MVS does indeed modulate BOLD signal fluctuations. We recorded eye movements, as well as, resting-state fMRI of 30 volunteers in darkness at 1.5 T and 3.0 T to answer the question whether MVS modulated parts of the default mode resting-state network (DMN) in accordance with the Lorentz-force model for MVS, while distinguishing this from the known signal increase due to field strength related imaging effects. Our results showed that modulation of the default mode network occurred mainly in areas associated with vestibular and ocular motor function, and was in accordance with the Lorentz-forcemodel, i.e., double than the expected signal scaling due to field strength alone. We discuss the implications of our findings for the interpretation of studies using resting-state fMRI, especially those concerning vestibular research. We conclude that MVS needs to be considered in vestibular research to avoid biased results, but it might also offer the possibility of manipulating network dynamics and may thus help in studying the brain as a dynamical system. (C) 2015 ELSEVIER. All rights reserved.