Bilateral hand representations in human primary proprioceptive areas

Neuropsychologia. 2011 Oct;49(12):3383-91. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2011.08.013. Epub 2011 Aug 17.


Sensory representations in the postcentral gyrus are supposed to be strictly lateralised and to provide spatially unbiased representations of limb positions. However, electrophysiological and behavioural measurements in humans and non-human primates tentatively suggested some degree of bilateral processing even in early somatosensory areas. We report a patient who suffered a small and confined lesion of the hand area in the postcentral gyrus that resulted in a proprioceptive deficit without any concomitant primary motor impairment. We performed a finger position-matching task with target locations being defined proprioceptively. Without visual feedback of either hand, the patient demonstrated a significant leftward shift of perceived locations when reaching with the ipsilesional right hand to her contralesional left hand and an opposite rightward shift when reaching with the left hand to the position of the right hand. Although these directional errors improved when vision of the active hand was allowed, errors were still significantly larger than those of age-matched healthy controls with unconstrained view of the active contralesional hand. Reaching to visual targets without visual online feedback the patient revealed comparable errors with both hands. Reaching to visual targets with full visual feedback, she was as accurate as controls with either hand. In summary, our data demonstrate an effect of the right postcentral lesion on proprioceptive information processing for both hands. The results suggest an integration of contralateral and ipsilateral proprioceptive information already at this early processing stage possibly mediated by callosal connections.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality / physiology*
  • Hand / innervation*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Physical Stimulation
  • Proprioception / physiology*
  • Somatosensory Cortex / anatomy & histology
  • Somatosensory Cortex / physiology*
  • Vision, Ocular