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Open Access Original article

The effects of neck flexion on cerebral potentials evoked by visual, auditory and somatosensory stimuli and focal brain blood flow in related sensory cortices

Katsuo Fujiwara1*, Kenji Kunita2, Naoe Kiyota3, Aida Mammadova1 and Mariko Irei1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Human Movement and Health, Graduate School of Medical Science, Kanazawa University, 13-1 Takara-machi, Kanazawa 920-8640, Japan

2 Department of Sports Instruction, Faculty of Sports and Human, Sapporo International University, 4-1-4-1 Kiyota, Kiyota-ku, Sapporo, 004-8602, Japan

3 Department of Rehabilitation Science, Osaka Health Science University, 1-9-27 Temma, Kita-ku, Osaka, 530-0043, Japan

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Journal of Physiological Anthropology 2012, 31:31  doi:10.1186/1880-6805-31-31

Published: 3 December 2012

Abstract

Background

A flexed neck posture leads to non-specific activation of the brain. Sensory evoked cerebral potentials and focal brain blood flow have been used to evaluate the activation of the sensory cortex. We investigated the effects of a flexed neck posture on the cerebral potentials evoked by visual, auditory and somatosensory stimuli and focal brain blood flow in the related sensory cortices.

Methods

Twelve healthy young adults received right visual hemi-field, binaural auditory and left median nerve stimuli while sitting with the neck in a resting and flexed (20° flexion) position. Sensory evoked potentials were recorded from the right occipital region, Cz in accordance with the international 10–20 system, and 2 cm posterior from C4, during visual, auditory and somatosensory stimulations. The oxidative-hemoglobin concentration was measured in the respective sensory cortex using near-infrared spectroscopy.

Results

Latencies of the late component of all sensory evoked potentials significantly shortened, and the amplitude of auditory evoked potentials increased when the neck was in a flexed position. Oxidative-hemoglobin concentrations in the left and right visual cortices were higher during visual stimulation in the flexed neck position. The left visual cortex is responsible for receiving the visual information. In addition, oxidative-hemoglobin concentrations in the bilateral auditory cortex during auditory stimulation, and in the right somatosensory cortex during somatosensory stimulation, were higher in the flexed neck position.

Conclusions

Visual, auditory and somatosensory pathways were activated by neck flexion. The sensory cortices were selectively activated, reflecting the modalities in sensory projection to the cerebral cortex and inter-hemispheric connections.

Keywords:
Brain activation; Focal brain blood flow; Near-infrared spectroscopy; Neck flexion; Sensory evoked potential