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Oral Structure Representation In Human Somatosensory Cortex

Y. Tamura, Y. Shibukawa, M. Shintani, Y. Kaneko, T. Ichinohe
Published 2008 · Medicine, Computer Science

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To clarify the topography of the areas representing whole intraoral structures and elucidate bilateral neuronal projection to those areas in the primary somatosensory (S1) cortex, we recorded somatosensory-evoked magnetic fields (SEFs), which reflect the earliest cortical responses to pure tactile stimulation, using magnetoencephalography and a piezo-driven tactile stimulation device. Subjects consisted of 10 healthy male adults. Following tactile stimulation of 6 sites on the oral mucosa (inferior/superior buccal mucosa, posterior/anterior tongue mucosa, and upper/lower lip mucosa), SEFs with a peak latency of 15 ms (1M) were identified bilaterally. In contrast, SEFs with a peak latency of 30 ms following right index finger tactile stimulation were identified only in the contralateral hemisphere. Equivalent current dipoles (ECDs) generating 15 ms components were found along the posterior wall of the central sulcus, bilaterally. The ECD locations for oral mucosa-representing areas were located inferiorly to those for the index finger, with the following pattern of organization from top to bottom along the central sulcus: index finger, upper or lower lip, anterior or posterior tongue and superior or inferior buccal mucosa, with a wide distribution, covering 30% of the S1 cortex. Source strength for 1M in the ipsilateral hemisphere was weaker than that in the contralateral hemisphere. These results clearly indicate that sensory afferents innervating the intraoral region project to both the contralateral and ipsilateral 3b areas via the trigeminothalamic tract, where contralateral projection is predominant. The results clarify the intraoral structure-representing areas in the S1 cortex, adding those areas to the classical "sensory homunculus".
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