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Cortical processing of lateral skin stretch stimulation in humans.

Journal article
Authors Helena Backlund Wasling
Linda Lundblad
Line Sofie Löken
Johan Wessberg
Katarina Wiklund
Ulf Norrsell
Håkan Olausson
Published in Experimental brain research. Experimentelle Hirnforschung. Expérimentation cérébrale
Volume 190
Issue 2
Pages 117-24
ISSN 1432-1106
Publication year 2008
Published at Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Department of Clinical Neuroscience and Rehabilitation
Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Department of Physiology
Pages 117-24
Language en
Subject categories Experimental brain research, Neurophysiology


Direction discrimination of a moving tactile stimulus requires intact dorsal columns and provides a sensitive clinical test of somatosensory dysfunction. Cortical mechanisms are poorly understood. We have applied tangential skin pulls to the right lower leg during functional magnetic resonance imaging. Healthy subjects judged the direction of the skin pulls (task experiment, n = 7) or received skin pulls passively (no task experiment, n = 8). Second somatosensory cortex (S2) was activated in the task as well as no task experiment, and there was no significant difference in cortical activation between the two experiments. Within S2 nearly all subjects had prominent activations in the caudal and superficial part, i.e., in the opercular parietal (OP) area 1. S1 was activated in only one of the subjects. Thus, S2 and especially OP 1 seems to be important for processing of lateral skin stretch stimulation. The finding suggests that a lesion of this area might cause a disturbance in tactile direction discrimination which should be relevant for clinical testing.

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