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Selective gating of lower limb cortical somatosensory evoked potentials (SEPs) during passive and active foot movements.

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Functional Neurology and Epileptology Department, Hopital Neurologique, Lyon, France.


We evaluated subcortical and cortical somatosensory evoked potentials (SEPs) in response to posterior tibial nerve stimulation in 4 experimental conditions of foot movement and compared them with the baseline condition of full relaxation. The experimental conditions were: (a) active flexion-extension of the stimulated foot; (b) active flexion-extension of the non-stimulated foot; (c) passive flexion-extension of the stimulated foot in complete relaxation; (d) tonic active flexion of the stimulated foot. We analyzed latencies and amplitudes of the subcortical P30 potential, of the contralateral pre-rolandic N37 and P50 responses and of the P37, N50 and P60 potentials recorded over the vertex. Latencies did not vary in any of the paradigms. The amplitude of subcortical P30 potential did not change during any of the paradigms. Among the cortical waves, P37, N50 and P60 amplitudes were significantly attenuated in all conditions except active movement of the non-stimulated foot (b). This attenuation was less during passive (c) than during active movements of the stimulated foot (a and d). The contralateral pre-rolandic waves N37 and P50 showed no significant decrease during any of the paradigms. These results suggest that gating occurs rostrally to the cervico-medullary junction, probably at cortical level. The different behavior of N37, P50 and P37, N50 cortical responses during movement of the stimulated foot provides evidence suggestive of a highly localized gating process occurring at cortical level. These potentials could reflect activation of separate, functionally distinct generators.

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