Somatosensory Evoked Potentials (SEPs) and Somatosensory Evoked magnetic Fields (SEFs) to median nerve stimulation at wrist were recorded in 5 healthy subjects and the components between 15 and 30 ms after the stimulus were evaluated on the hemiscalp contralateral to the stimulated wrist. SEPs were measured by means of a 32-channel recorder and compared with SEFs obtained via multiple measurements with a 4-channel sensor. Equivalent dipole localization was carried out for the magnetic components peaking at about 15, 20 and 24 ms. The scalp distribution of SEPs, illustrated by bit mapped color images, were qualitatively explained by three separate sources. The first is described as a tangentially oriented dipole placed behind the Central Sulcus and responsible for the parietal N20-"late P25" waves and for the frontal P20-N30 ones. The second is represented by a radieal dipole placed just in front of the Central Sulcus and pointing towards the motor strip, responsible for the rolandic P22 component. The third is just behind the Central Sulcus and is radically oriented towards the surface of the postcentral sensory area for the "early P25" parietal wave. The SEFs distributions, illustrated by color isofield contour maps, were quantitatively explained by a unique tangential dipole localized, with good resolution, well behind the Sulcus for the 15 ms waves and slightly frontal to this site for the waves peaking at around 20 and 24 ms. The equivalent dipole has been localized at a depth of about 5 cm (15 ms component), 2 cm (20 ms components) and 4 cm (24 ms component), across the studied subjects. It is stressed that the dipole responsible for the magnetic pattern is likely to be the same tangential dipole responsible for a part of the electric pattern. Due to their radieal orientation, the other two dipoles, proposed for the SEPs maps, would be mostly undetectable by a magnetic investigation.
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