The sensory somatotopic map of the human hand demonstrated at 4 Tesla

Neuroimage. 1999 Jul;10(1):55-62. doi: 10.1006/nimg.1999.0448.


Recent attempts at high-resolution sensory-stimulated fMRI performed at 1.5 T have had very limited success at demonstrating a somatotopic organization for individual digits. Our purpose was to determine if functional MRI at 4 T can demonstrate the sensory somatotopic map of the human hand. Sensory functional MRI was performed at 4 T in five normal volunteers using a low-frequency vibratory stimulus on the pad of each finger of the left hand. A simple motor control task was also performed. The data were normalized to a standard atlas, and individual and group statistical parametric maps (SPMs) were computed for each task. Volume of activation and distribution of cluster maxima were compared for each task. For three of the subjects, the SPMs demonstrated a somatotopic organization of the sensory cortex. The group SPMs demonstrated a clear somatotopic organization of the sensory cortex. The thumb to fifth finger were organized, in general, with a lateral to medial, inferior to superior, and anterior to posterior relationship. There was overlap in the individual SPMs between fingers. The sensory activation spanned a space of 12-18 mm (thumb to fifth finger) on the primary sensory cortex. The motor activation occurred consistently at the superior-most extent of the sensory activation within and across subjects. The sensory somatotopic map of the human hand can be identified at 4 T. High-resolution imaging at 4 T can be useful for detailed functional imaging studies.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain Mapping / methods*
  • Hand / innervation*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Magnetics
  • Male
  • Reference Values
  • Somatosensory Cortex / physiology*