Brain mapping of digestive sensations elicited by cortical electrical stimulations

Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2008 Jun;20(6):588-96. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2982.2007.01066.x. Epub 2008 Jan 15.


The aim of the study was to obtain a comprehensive map of cortical areas from where digestive sensations during intracerebral electrical stimulations (ES) in epileptic patients are elicited. Direct cortical ESs were performed in 339 medically intractable epileptic patients selected to presurgical evaluation using chronically stereotaxically implanted intracerebral electrodes and audio-video-EEG monitoring system. Digestive sensations were electrically induced on 723 different anatomical sites in 172 subjects (51%). According to the exclusion criteria, the final analysis includes 174 relevant stimulations evoked in 87 patients. The reported sensations referred predominantly to the upper part of the digestive tract including the epigastria and area over the periumbilical (n = 83; 48%), retrosternal (n = 17; 10%), pharyngeal (n = 31; 18%) and oral (n = 18; 10%) regions. The temporal pole (BA 38), hippocampus, amygdala and anterior cingulate cortex (ACC; BA 24/BA 32) were the typical anatomical locations connected with epigastric sensations. Retrosternal sensations were preferentially related to the ACC, while oro-pharyngeal sensations were most related to the suprasylvian opercular cortex and the insula. Cortical ESs are followed by a great variability of induced digestive and associated symptoms corresponding to a widely distributed cortical network of visceral sensation processing, in which the limbic and paralimbic structures play a critical role.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Brain Mapping / methods*
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Digestion / physiology*
  • Electric Stimulation / methods
  • Electroencephalography / methods
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / innervation*
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sensation / physiology*