Differentiation of receptive fields in the sensory cortex following stimulation of various nerves of the lower limb in humans: a magnetoencephalographic study

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✓ The authors investigated magnetoencephalography following stimulation of the posterior tibial (PT) and sural (SU) nerves at the ankle, the peroneal nerve (PE) at the knee, and the femoral nerve (FE) overlying the inguinal ligament in seven normal subjects (14 limbs) and confirmed its usefulness in clarifying the detailed differentiation of the receptive fields in the lower limb area of the primary sensory cortex in humans. The results were summarized as follows: 1) the equivalent current dipoles (ECDs) estimated by the magnetic fields following stimulation of the PT and SU were located very close to each other, along the interhemispheric fissure in all 14 limbs. They were directed horizontally to the hemisphere ipsilateral to the stimulated nerve. 2) The ECD following stimulation of the FE was clearly different from that seen in the other nerves, in terms of the location and/or direction, in all 14 limbs. The ECDs of 14 limbs were classified into two types according to the distance of ECD location between PT and FE; Type 1 (> 1 cm, nine limbs) and Type 2 (< 1 cm, five limbs). The ECD following FE stimulation was located on the crown of the postcentral gyrus or at the edge of the interhemispheric fissure in Type 1 and was close to the ECDs following PT and SU stimulation along the interhemispheric fissure in Type 2. 3) The ECD following PE stimulation was located along the interhemispheric fissure in all 14 limbs as for PT and SU. Its location was slightly but significantly higher than that of PT and SU in Type 1 and was close to ECDs following PT and SU stimulation in Type 2. The present findings indicated that approximately 65% (nine of 14) of the limbs showed the particular receptive fields compatible with the homunculus. Large inter- and the intraindividual (left—right) differences found in the present study indicated a significant anatomical variation in the area of the lower limb in the sensory cortex of humans.

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Address reprint requests to: Ryusuke Kakigi, M.D., Department of Integrative Physiology, National Institute for Physiological Sciences, Myodaiji, Okazaki, 444, Japan.
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