Test-retest reliability and concurrent validity of an fMRI-compatible pneumatic vibrator to stimulate muscle proprioceptors

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Multisensory Research, ISSN: 2213-4808, Vol: 29, Issue: 4-5, Page: 465-492

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Goossens, Nina; Janssens, Lotte; Pijnenburg, Madelon; Caeyenberghs, Karen; Van Rompuy, Charlotte; Meugens, Paul; Sunaert, Stefan; Brumagne, Simon
Psychology; Medicine; Neuroscience; Computer Science; vibration; postural balance; proprioception; magnetic resonance imaging; reproducibility of results; muscle spindle; Motor Control
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Processing proprioceptive information in the brain is essential for optimal postural control and can be studied with proprioceptive stimulation, provided by muscle vibration, during functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Classic electromagnetic muscle vibrators, however, cannot be used in the high-strength magnetic field of the fMRI scanner. Pneumatic vibrators offer an fMRI-compatible alternative. However, whether these devices produce reliable and valid proprioceptive stimuli has not been investigated, although this is essential for these devices to be used in longitudinal research. Test-retest reliability and concurrent validity of the postural response to muscle vibration, provided by custom-made fMRI-compatible pneumatic vibrators, were assessed in a repeated-measures design. Mean center of pressure (CoP) displacements during, respectively, ankle muscle and back muscle vibration (45-60 Hz, 0.5 mm) provided by an electromagnetic and a pneumatic vibrator were measured in ten young healthy subjects. The test was repeated on the same day and again within one week. Intraclass correlation coefficients (ICC) were calculated to assess (a) intra- and interday reliability of the postural responses to, respectively, pneumatic and electromagnetic vibration, and (b) concurrent validity of the response to pneumatic compared to electromagnetic vibration. Test-retest reliability of mean CoP displacements during pneumatic vibration was good to excellent (ICCs = 0.64-0.90) and resembled that of responses to electromagnetic vibration (ICCs = 0.64-0.94). Concurrent validity of the postural effect of pneumatic vibration was good to excellent (ICCs = 0.63-0.95). In conclusion, the proposed fMRI-compatible pneumatic vibrator can be used with confidence to stimulate muscle spindles during fMRI to study central processing of proprioception.