Abstract

Controversy persists over the role of the primary somatosensory cortex (SI) in processing small-fiber peripheral afferent input. We therefore examined subject I.W, who, due to sensory neuronopathy syndrome, has no large-fiber afferents below C3 level. Cortical evoked responses were recorded with a whole-scalp neuromagnetometer to high-intensity electrical stimulation of the distal right radial, median, and tibial nerves and skin over the forearm and mechanical stimulation of (neurologically intact) lip. The responses to electrical stimulation in the Aβ-denervated limbs peaked at 110–140 ms in contralateral SI and at 140–220 ms in contralateral secondary somatosensory cortex (SII), consistent with Aδ-mediated input. I.W. was able to localize pin-prick stimuli with 4 cm accuracy. Responses to laser stimuli on the radial dorsum of the hand peaked in contralateral SII cortex at 215 ms, also compatible with Aδ-mediated input. These results support the role of the SI cortex in processing the sensory discriminative aspects of Aδ-mediated input.

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