Activation of multiple cortical areas in response to somatosensory stimulation: combined magnetoencephalographic and functional magnetic resonance imaging

Hum Brain Mapp. 1999;8(1):13-27. doi: 10.1002/(sici)1097-0193(1999)8:1<13::aid-hbm2>;2-b.


We combined information from functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and magnetoencephalography (MEG) to assess which cortical areas and in which temporal order show macroscopic activation after right median nerve stimulation. Five healthy subjects were studied with the two imaging modalities, which both revealed significant activation in the contra- and ipsilateral primary somatosensory cortex (SI), the contra- and ipsilateral opercular areas, the walls of the contralateral postcentral sulcus (PoCS), and the contralateral supplementary motor area (SMA). In fMRI, two separate foci of activation in the opercular cortex were discerned, one posteriorly in the parietal operculum (PO), and one anteriorly near the insula or frontal operculum (anterior operculum, AO). The activation sites from fMRI were used to constrain the solution of the inverse problem of MEG, which allowed us to construct a model of the temporal sequence of activation of the different sites. According to this model, the mean onset latency for significant activation at the contralateral SI was 20 msec (range, 17-22 msec), followed by activation of PoCS at 23 msec (range, 21-25 msec). The contralateral PO was activated at 26 msec (range, 19-32 msec) and AO at 33 msec (range, 22-51 msec). The contralateral SMA became active at 36 msec (range, 24-48 msec). The ipsilateral SI, PO, and AO became activated at 54-67 msec. We conclude that fMRI provides a useful means to constrain the inverse problem of MEG, allowing the construction of spatiotemporal models of cortical activation, which may have significant implications for the understanding of cortical network functioning.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain Mapping / methods*
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Magnetoencephalography
  • Male
  • Median Nerve / physiology*
  • Reaction Time
  • Somatosensory Cortex / physiology*