Significance of the second somatosensory cortex in sensorimotor integration: enhancement of sensory responses during finger movements

Neuroreport. 1996 Apr 10;7(5):1009-12. doi: 10.1097/00001756-199604100-00011.


The functional significance of the second somatosensory cortex (SII) is poorly understood. However, lesion and cortical stimulation studies indicate that SII may be involved in sensory aspects of tactile learning and in movement control. In the present study, we explored a possible role of SII in sensorimotor integration in humans using a multichannel magnetometer. Somatosensory evoked fields (SEFs) from SII to electrical stimulation of left and right median nerves were recorded in six healthy volunteers during rest and in different test conditions. Continuous cutaneous stimulation of the right hand or face reduced the SEFs to both left and right median nerve stimulation. Right-sided finger movements increased the SEFs to right, but not left, median nerve stimulation. The responses were equally enhanced by simple finger flexion movement and by a complex finger sequence. The suppression of SEFs by competing cutaneous inputs from different areas of the body indicates that the neurones underlying the responses receive inputs from large, bilateral receptive fields. The enhancement of sensory reactions to signals from the actively moving limb but not to those from the opposite limb indicates a spatial tuning of the SII neurones to behaviourally relevant input channels, also suggesting that SII is important for the integration of sensory information to motor programmes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain Mapping
  • Evoked Potentials, Somatosensory / physiology*
  • Female
  • Fingers
  • Humans
  • Magnetoencephalography
  • Male
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Physical Stimulation
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Reference Values
  • Somatosensory Cortex / physiology*
  • Touch