Primary somatosensory cortex is actively involved in pain processing in human

Brain Res. 2000 Jan 24;853(2):282-9. doi: 10.1016/s0006-8993(99)02274-x.


We recorded somatosensory evoked magnetic fields (SEFs) by a whole head magnetometer to elucidate cortical receptive areas involved in pain processing, focusing on the primary somatosensory cortex (SI), following painful CO(2) laser stimulation of the dorsum of the left hand in 12 healthy human subjects. In seven subjects, three spatially segregated cortical areas (contralateral SI and bilateral second (SII) somatosensory cortices) were simultaneously activated at around 210 ms after the stimulus, suggesting parallel processing of pain information in SI and SII. Equivalent current dipole (ECD) in SI pointed anteriorly in three subjects whereas posteriorly in the remaining four. We also recorded SEFs following electric stimulation of the left median nerve at wrist in three subjects. ECD of CO(2) laser stimulation was located medial-superior to that of electric stimulation in all three subjects. In addition, by direct recording of somatosensory evoked potentials (SEPs) from peri-Rolandic cortex by subdural electrodes in an epilepsy patient, we identified a response to the laser stimulation over the contralateral SI with the peak latency of 220 ms. Its distribution was similar to, but slightly wider than, that of P25 of electric SEPs. Taken together, it is postulated that the pain impulse is received in the crown of the postcentral gyrus in human.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Brain Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Electrodes, Implanted
  • Electrooculography
  • Epilepsies, Partial / physiopathology
  • Evoked Potentials, Somatosensory
  • Frontal Lobe / pathology
  • Hand / innervation
  • Hand / physiology
  • Humans
  • Infrared Rays
  • Lasers
  • Magnetoencephalography
  • Male
  • Median Nerve / physiology
  • Pain / physiopathology*
  • Physical Stimulation / instrumentation
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Reference Values
  • Skin Physiological Phenomena / radiation effects
  • Somatosensory Cortex / physiology*
  • Wrist / innervation
  • Wrist / physiology