Localization of the face area of human sensorimotor cortex by intracranial recording of somatosensory evoked potentials

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  • 1 Neuropsychology Laboratory, Veterans Administration Medical Center, West Haven, and Department of Neurology and Section of Neurological Surgery, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut
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✓ The authors describe a method of localizing the sensory and motor peri-rolandic cortex representing the face and intraoral structures. Somatosensory evoked potentials (SEP's) to stimulation of the chin, lips, tongue, and palate were recorded in 37 patients studied intraoperatively under general anesthesia or following chronic implantation of cortical surface electrodes. Localization by trigeminal SEP recording was validated by SEP localization of the hand area with median nerve stimulation, and by cortical stimulation of the hand and face areas.

The following conclusions were drawn regarding the implementation of face area localization: 1) in general agreement with the results of cortical stimulation in humans and single-unit recordings in monkeys, there is a medial-to-lateral representation in somatosensory cortex of the hand, chin, upper lip, lower lip, tongue, and palate; 2) the chin and lip representations overlap, are adjacent to the hand area, and provide little additional localizing information if the hand area has been identified; 3) stimulation of the tongue and palate evokes reliable, large-amplitude SEP's useful for localization; 4) palatal SEP's allow localization near the sylvian sulcus; 5) for any type of trigeminal stimulation, the largest SEP's are recorded from the somatosensory cortex and provide the most consistent criterion for its identification; and 6) polarity inversion of potentials across the sulcus (a reliable localizing criterion for median nerve SEP's) is a less reliable criterion for trigeminal SEP's.

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Contributor Notes

Address reprint requests to: Gregory McCarthy, Ph.D., Neuropsychology Laboratory 116B1, Veterans Administration Medical Center, West Haven, Connecticut 06516.
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