Developmental changes in somatosensory processing in cerebral palsy and healthy individuals

Clin Neurophysiol. 2010 Aug;121(8):1314-20. doi: 10.1016/j.clinph.2010.03.010. Epub 2010 Apr 2.


Objective: Cerebral palsy (CP) is a motor disorder that causes physical disability in human development. Recent work has shown that somatosensory deficits are a serious problem for people with CP. There is however no information about the influence of age on brain correlates of tactile sensitivity.

Methods: Proprioception, touch and pain pressure thresholds, as well as somatosensory evoked potentials (SEP) elicited by tactile stimulation in lips and thumbs were examined in 15 children with CP (range 5-14y), 14 adults with CP (range 22-55y), 15 healthy children (range 5-14y), and 15 healthy adults (range 22-42y).

Results: Children with CP as compared to healthy controls showed more reduced sensitivity for non-painful stimuli, but enhanced sensitivity for painful stimuli. Early SEP amplitudes (P50 and P100) were more enhanced in children and adults with CP than in healthy participants. A functional hemispheric asymmetry was observed in CP when left- and right-side body parts were stimulated.

Conclusions: Data suggest the possibility that altered somatosensory brain processing in CP might be reflecting an enhanced excitability of the somatosensory cortex.

Significance: Assessment of somatosensory functions may have implications for future neuromodulatory treatment of pain complaints and motor rehabilitation programs in children and adults with cerebral palsy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Brain Mapping
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiopathology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Electroencephalography
  • Evoked Potentials, Somatosensory / physiology*
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain / physiopathology
  • Pain Measurement
  • Pain Threshold / physiology*
  • Physical Stimulation
  • Proprioception / physiology
  • Somatosensory Cortex / physiopathology*
  • Touch / physiology
  • Touch Perception / physiology*