Modality-related scalp responses after electrical stimulation of cutaneous and muscular upper limb afferents in humans

Domenico Restuccia, Massimiliano Valeriani, Angelo Insola, Mauro Lo Monaco, Eugenio Grassi, Carmen Barba, Domenica Le Pera, François Mauguière

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


To elucidate whether the selective electrical stimulation of muscle as well as cutaneous afferents evokes modality-specific responses in somatosensory evoked potentials (SEPs) recorded on the scalp of humans, we compared scalp SEPs to electrical stimuli applied to the median nerve and to the abductor pollicis brevis (APB) motor point. In three subjects, we also recorded SEPs after stimulation of the distal phalanx of the thumb, which selectively involved cutaneous afferents. Motor point and median nerve SEPs showed the same scalp distribution; moreover, very similar dipole models, showing the same dipolar time courses, explained well the SEPs after both types of stimulation. Since the non-natural stimulation of muscle afferents evokes responses also in areas specifically devoted to cutaneous input processing, it is conceivable that, in physiological conditions, muscle afferents are differentially gated in somatosensory cortex. The frontocentral N30 response was absent after purely cutaneous stimulation; by contrast, it was relatively more represented in motor point rather than in mixed nerve SEPs. These data suggest that the N30 response is specifically evoked by proprioceptive inputs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)44-54
Number of pages11
JournalMuscle and Nerve
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2002


  • Dipolar analysis
  • Generator sources
  • Muscular afferent
  • Proprioception
  • Somatosensory evoked potentials

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neuroscience(all)


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