Neuromagnetic integrated methods tracking human brain mechanisms of sensorimotor areas 'plastic' reorganisation

P. M. Rossini, F. Pauri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The potential for reorganization in the adult brain has been largely underestimated in the past and we are just beginning to understand the organisational principles involved in functional recovery. A bulk of experimental evidences have been accumulated in support of the hypothesis that neuronal aggregates adjacent to a lesion in the cortical brain areas can be progressively vicarious to the function of the damaged neurones. Such a reorganisation, if occurring in the affected hemisphere of a patient with a monohemispheric lesion, should significantly modify the interhemispheric symmetry of somatotopic organisation of the sensorimotor cortices, both in terms of absolute surfaces and number of 'recruited' neurons, as well as of spatial coordinates. In fact, a roughly symmetrical organisation of sensorimotor - particularly for the hand contorl - in the right and left hemisphere has been observed in healthy humans by different methods of functional brain imaging, including fMRI, TMS, MEG, HD-EEG. Not uniform results about the functional brain activity related to sensory, motor and cognitive functions in normal and diseased subjects are often due to differences in the experimental paradigm designed as well as in the spatial and temporal resolution of the neuroimaging techniques used. The multi-modal integration of data obtained with several neuroimaging techniques allowed a coherent modelling of human brain higher functions. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) provided fine spatial details (millimetres) of the brain responses, which were compared with the cortical maps of the motor output to different body districts obtained with transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). Magnetoencephalography (MEG) ability to study sensorimotor areas by analysing cortical magnetic fields, is also complementary to the motor cortex topographical mapping provided by TMS. MEG high temporal resolution allows to detect relatively restricted functional neuronal pools activated during cerebral processing of external stimuli. Moreover, these brain responses can be investigated with magnetoencephalography (MEG) and high density electroencephalography (EEG) techniques, with elevated time resolution (ms). With respect to the high resolution EEG technique, the MEG technique allowed a more precise localisation of the sites of neural activity buried into the cortical sulci, but was unable to detect the response of the crown of the cortical giri and of the frontal-mesial cortex (including the supplementary motor area), because of its poor sensitivity to radially oriented dipoles. The integration of functional and anatomical information provide cues on the relationship between brain activity and anatomic sites where this takes place, allowing the characterisation of the physiological activity of the cortical brain layers as well as to study the plastic reorganisation of the brain in different pathological conditions following stroke, limb amputation, spinal cord injury, hemisperectomy. Copyright (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)131-154
Number of pages24
JournalBrain Research Reviews
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2000


  • fMRI
  • Functional recovery
  • MEG
  • Rehabilitation
  • Removal reorganization
  • Stroke
  • TMS

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Neuromagnetic integrated methods tracking human brain mechanisms of sensorimotor areas 'plastic' reorganisation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this