Electrical sources in human somatosensory cortex: identification by combined magnetic and potential recordings

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Science  01 Mar 1985:
Vol. 227, Issue 4690, pp. 1051-1053
DOI: 10.1126/science.3975600


Magnetic fields and electrical potentials produced by neuronal activity have different properties that can be used for the identification of electrical sources in the human brain. Fields and potentials occurring 20 to 30 milliseconds after median nerve stimulation in human subjects were compared in order to investigate the sources of evoked potential components that have been attributed by different investigators to the thalamus or thalamocortical afferents, to separate radial sources in somatosensory cortex and motor cortex, or to a tangential source in somatosensory cortex. The magnetic and potential wave forms were highly similar in morphology, and their spatial distributions were centered over sensorimotor cortex, were dipolar in shape, and differed in orientation by approximately 90 degrees; distances between the minimum and maximum of the magnetic distributions were about 60 percent of those of the potential distributions. These results cannot be accounted for by thalamic sources or radial cortical sources alone, but are consistent with a tangential source in somatosensory cortex, with an additional smaller contribution from radial sources.