Central somatosensory conduction in man: neural generators and interpeak latencies of the far-field components recorded from neck and right or left scalp and earlobes

Electroencephalogr Clin Neurophysiol. 1980 Dec;50(5-6):382-403. doi: 10.1016/0013-4694(80)90006-1.


Early somatosensory evoked potential (SEP) components to median nerve or finger stimulation were recorded with non-cephalic references in normal young adults. Detailed topographic data over scalp and neck were related to anatomical observations on the actual conduction distances in dorsal column, medial lemniscus and thalamo-cortical parts of the somatosensory pathway. The extrapolation of afferent conduction velocity (CV) measured from sensory nerve potentials along the peripheral nerve to the C6-C7 spinal segments identified the spinal entry time with the onset of the neck N11 or scalp P11 (far field 2 or FF2). The first far field (FF1) is generated in the nerve proximal to axilla. The definite latency shift of the spinal negativity along the neck indicates a CV of 58 m/sec. Data about the maximal diameter of lemniscal axons in man were used to calculate a CV of 40.5 m/sec. Consideration of transit times from spinal entry to cortex and of synaptic delays clarified the arrival times of the afferent volley at various relay nuclei, and also suggested a thalamo-cortical CV of about 33 m/sec. Interpeak and onset-to-peak measures on scalp far fields suggest that FF3-FF4 are generated in medial lemniscus rather than above the thalamus. Consistent differences in amplitude, but not in wave form, were recorded at right and left earlobes for FF2 (larger ipsilaterally) and FF3-FF4 (larger contralaterally). The scalp topography of far fields was analysed in detail.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Afferent Pathways / physiology
  • Ear / physiology*
  • Electroencephalography
  • Evoked Potentials*
  • Female
  • Fingers / innervation
  • Functional Laterality
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Median Nerve / physiology
  • Neck / physiology*
  • Neural Conduction*
  • Reaction Time*
  • Scalp / physiology*
  • Somatosensory Cortex / physiology
  • Spinal Cord / physiology
  • Synapses / physiology
  • Thalamus / physiology