Early nociceptive evoked potentials (NEPs) recorded from the scalp

Massimo Leandri, Giulia Di Stefano, Andrea Truini, Lucio Marinelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Neurophysiological investigation of nociceptive pathway has so far been limited to late cortical responses. We sought to detect early components of the cortical evoked potentials possibly reflecting primary sensory activity. Methods: The 150 IDE micropatterned electrode was used to selectively activate Aδ intraepidermic fibres of the right hand dorsum in 25 healthy subjects and 3 patients suffering from trigeminal neuralgia. Neurographic recordings were performed to assess type of stimulated fibres and check selectivity. Cortical evoked potentials were recorded from C3′-Fz and Cz-Au1. Results: Neurographic recordings confirmed selective activation of Aδ fibres. Early components were detected after repetitive stimulation (0.83/s rate and 250–500 averages); the first negative component occured at 40 ms (N40) on the contralateral scalp. Conclusions: The provided data support the hypothesis that N40 could be the cortical primary response conducted by fast Aδ fibres. Significance: This is the first report of early, possibly primary, cortical responses in humans by nociceptive peripheral stimulation. Although not perfected yet to allow widespread diagnostic use, this is probably the only method to allow fully objective evaluation of the nociceptive system, with important future implications in experimental and clinical neurophysiology.

Original languageEnglish
JournalClinical Neurophysiology
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2021


  • Evoked Potentials
  • Micropatterned
  • Neurophysiology
  • Nociception
  • Pain
  • Primary response

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sensory Systems
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Physiology (medical)


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