Malnutrition during brain development can cause serious problems that can be irreversible. Dysfunctional patterns of brain activity can be detected with functional MRI. We used BOLD functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) to investigate region differences of brain activity between control and malnourished rats. The food-competition method was applied to a rat model to induce malnutrition during lactation. A 7T magnet was used to detect changes of the BOLD signal associated with changes in brain activity caused by the trigeminal nerve stimulation in malnourished and control rats. Major neuronal activation was observed in malnourished rats in several brain regions, including cerebellum, somatosensory cortex, hippocampus, and hypothalamus. Statistical analysis of the BOLD signals from various brain areas revealed significant differences in somatosensory cortex between the control and experimental groups, as well as a significant difference between the cerebellum and other structures in the experimental group. This study, particularly in malnourished rats, demonstrates increased BOLD activation in the cerebellum.
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