Somatosensory potentials evoked by mechanical stimulation of the fingernail and electrical stimulation of the nerve in the finger and at the wrist were recorded by surface electrodes over: (1) the digital nerve in the index finger, (2) the median nerve at the wrist, (3) the median nerve at the axilla, (4) the brachial plexus at Erb's point, (5) the cervical cord at C2, and (6) the scalp overlying the somatosensory cortex. Nerve conduction velocities were computed for two portions of the median nerve. Conduction times along the somatosensory pathway between spinal cord and cerebral cortex were also defined.
The mechanically evoked potentials had less temporal dispersion, were of lower amplitude, and occasionally consisted of fewer components than the electrically evoked potentials. Electrical stimulation of the nerve trunk at the wrist evoked some additional components not detected by the other stimulation methods. Nerve conduction velocities and conduction times were comparable among the three methods of stimulation.