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Exp Brain Res. 1990;80(2):333-44.

Modulation of somatosensory evoked responses in the primary somatosensory cortex produced by intracortical microstimulation of the motor cortex in the monkey.

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Département de Physiologie, Université de Montreal, Québec, Canada.


Previous studies have shown that the amplitude of somatosensory evoked potentials is diminished prior to, and during, voluntary limb movement. The present study investigated the role of the motor cortex in mediating this movement-related modulation in three chronically prepared, awake monkeys by applying low intensity intracortical microstimulation (ICMS) to different sites within the area 4 representation of the arm. Air puff stimuli were applied to the contralateral arm or adjacent trunk at various delays following the ICMS. Somatosensory evoked potentials were recorded from the primary somatosensory cortex, areas 1 and 3b, with an intracortical microelectrode. The principal finding of this study was that very weak ICMS, itself producing at most a slight, localized, muscle twitch, produced a profound decrease in the magnitude of the short latency component of the somatosensory evoked potentials in the awake money. Higher intensities of ICMS (suprathreshold for eliciting electromyographic (EMG) activity in the "target" muscle, i.e. that muscle activated by area 4 stimulation) were more likely to decrease the evoked response and produced an even greater decrease. The modulation appeared to be, in part, central in origin since (i) it preceded the onset of EMG activity in 23% of experiments, (ii) direct stimulation of the muscle activated by ICMS, which mimicked the feedback associated with the small ICMS-induced twitch, was often ineffective and (iii) the modulation was observed in the absence of EMG activity. Peripheral feedback, however, may also make a contribution. The results also indicate that the efferent signals from the motor cortex can diminish responses in the somatosensory cortex evoked by cutaneous stimuli, in a manner related to the somatotopic order. The effects are organized so that the modulation is directed towards those neurones serving skin areas overlying, or distal to, the motor output.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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