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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Functional magnetic resonance imaging of the ascending stages of the auditory system in dogs

Jan-Peter Bach1, Matthias Lüpke2*, Peter Dziallas1, Patrick Wefstaedt1, Stefan Uppenkamp3, Hermann Seifert2 and Ingo Nolte1

Author Affiliations

1 Small Animal Clinic, University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, Foundation, Germany

2 Institute for General Radiology and Medical Physics, University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, Foundation, Germany

3 Medical Physics, Carl von Ossietzky University Oldenburg, Oldenburg, Germany

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BMC Veterinary Research 2013, 9:210  doi:10.1186/1746-6148-9-210

Published: 16 October 2013



Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) is a technique able to localize neural activity in the brain by detecting associated changes in blood flow. It is an essential tool for studying human functional neuroanatomy including the auditory system. There are only a few studies, however, using fMRI to study canine brain functions. In the current study ten anesthetized dogs were scanned during auditory stimulation. Two functional sequences, each in combination with a suitable stimulation paradigm, were used in each subject. Sequence 1 provided periods of silence during which acoustic stimuli could be presented unmasked by scanner noise (sparse temporal sampling) whereas in sequence 2 the scanner noise was present throughout the entire session (continuous imaging). The results obtained with the two different functional sequences were compared.


This study shows that with the proper experimental setup it is possible to detect neural activity in the auditory system of dogs. In contrast to human fMRI studies the strongest activity was found in the subcortical parts of the auditory pathways. Especially sequence 1 showed a high reliability in detecting activated voxels in brain regions associated with the auditory system.


These results indicate that fMRI is applicable for studying the canine auditory system and could become an additional method for the clinical evaluation of the auditory function of dogs. Additionally, fMRI is an interesting technique for future studies concerned with canine functional neuroanatomy.

fMRI; Dog; Auditory pathways; Anesthesia