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An IC in the V5/MT region reacted to videos depicting faces or hands, whereas ICs in the V1/V2 region reacted to all video clips, including buildings. The corresponding GLM-derived activations in the auditory and early visual cortices comprised sub-areas of the ICA-revealed activations. ICA separated a prominent IC in the primary somatosensory cortex whereas the GLM-based analysis failed to show any touch-related activation. "Intrinsic" components, unrelated to the stimuli but spatially consistent across subjects, were discerned as well. The individual time courses were highly consistent in sensory projection cortices and more variable elsewhere. The ability to differentiate functionally meaningful composites of activated brain areas and to straightforwardly reveal their temporal dynamics renders ICA a sensitive tool to study brain responses to complex natural stimuli.

Mattila S, Renvall V, Hiltunen J, Kirven D, Sepponen R, Hari R, and Tarkiainen A: Phantom-based evaluation of geometric distortions in functional magnetic resonance and diffusion tensor imaging. Magn Reson Med 2007, 57: 754–763.

Phantom-based evaluation of geometric distortions in functional MRI and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) was investigated. An acrylic water-filled phantom with a grid structure was designed and manufactured to provide accurate geometric information over the volume measured in human brain imaging. The grid structures were well detected in data acquired using a 3-T MRI scanner with echo-planar imaging (EPI) sequences commonly applied in functional MRI and DTI. A method for quantifying distortions in the phantom data was presented and applied for the images. The validity of the phantom for EPI was evaluated by quantitatively comparing the distortions present in and induced by the phantom and a human brain when imaged under identical conditions. The results suggest that the new phantom can reveal geometric distortions easily undermined by standard MRI phantoms. For example, prominent variability in the distortions was found as a function of the orientation of the diffusion-sensitizing gradient. Possible future applications for this type of phantom include quality assurance and calibration of the hardware and software used in EPI-based functional MRI and DTI.

Saarela MV, Hlushchuk Y, de C Williams AC, Schürmann M, Kalso E, and Hari R: The compassionate brain: Humans detect intensity of pain from another’s face. Cereb Cortex 2007, 17: 230–237.

Understanding another person's experience draws on "mirroring systems," brain circuitries shared by the subject's own actions/feelings and by similar states observed in others. Lately, also the experience of pain has been shown to activate partly the same brain areas in the subjects' own and in the observer's brain. Recent studies show remarkable overlap between brain areas activated when a subject undergoes painful sensory stimulation and when he/she observes others suffering from pain. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, we show that not only the presence of pain but also the intensity of the observed pain is encoded in the observer's brain-as occurs during the observer's own pain experience. When subjects observed pain from the faces of chronic pain patients, activations in bilateral anterior insula (AI), left anterior cingulate cortex, and left inferior parietal lobe in the observer's brain correlated with their estimates of the intensity of observed pain. Furthermore, the strengths of activation in the left AI and left inferior frontal gyrus during observation of intensified pain correlated with subjects' self-rated empathy. These findings imply that the intersubjective representation of pain in the human brain is more detailed than

Annual Report 2007

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