Effects of stimulus intensity on signals from human somatosensory cortices

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WE recorded somatosensory evoked magnetic fields (SEFs) to left median nerve electric stimulation from seven healthy subjects. The stimulus intensity was varied in three sessions: sensory stimuli evoked a clear tactile sensation without any movement, weak motor stimuli exceeded the motor threshold, and strong motor stimuli caused a vigorous movement. Responses were modelled with sources in the contralateral primary somatosensory cortex (SI), the contralateral and ipsilateral secondary somatosensory cortices (SIIs) and the contralateral posterior parietal cortex (PPC). The amplitude of the 20 ms response from the SI cortex and the subjective magnitude estimations followed the stimulus intensity whereas signals from the three other areas saturated already at the level of the motor threshold. The results implicate differential roles for various somatosensory cortices in intensity coding.

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