1. To clarify the generators of human short-latency somatosensory evoked potentials (SEPs) thought to arise in sensorimotor cortex, we studied the effects on SEPs of surgical excision of somatosensory or motor cortex in humans and monkeys. 2. Normal median nerve SEPs (P20-N30, N20-P30, and P25-N35) were recorded from the cortical surface of a patient (G13) undergoing a cortical excision for relief of focal seizures. All SEPs were abolished both acutely and chronically after excision of the hand area of somatosensory cortex. Similarly, excision of the hand area of somatosensory cortex abolished corresponding SEPs (P10-N20, N10-P20, and P12-N25) in monkeys. Excision of the crown of monkey somatosensory cortex abolished P12-N25 while leaving P10-N20 and N10-P20 relatively unaffected. 3. After excision of the hand area of motor cortex, all SEPs were present when recorded from the cortical surface of a patient (W1) undergoing a cortical excision for relief of focal seizures. Similarly, all SEPs were present in monkeys after excision of the hand area of motor cortex. 4. Although all SEPs were present after excision of motor cortex in monkeys, variable changes were observed in SEPs after the excisions. However, these changes were not larger than the changes observed after excision of parietal cortex posterior to somatosensory cortex. We concluded that the changes were not specific to motor cortex excision. 5. These results support two major conclusions. 1) Median nerve SEPs recorded from sensorimotor cortex are produced by generators in two adjacent regions of somatosensory cortex: a tangentially oriented generator in area 3b, which produces P20-N30 (human) and P10-N20 (monkey) [recorded anterior to the central sulcus (CS)] and N20-P30 (human) and N10-P20 (monkey) posterior to the CS; and a radially oriented generator in area 1, which produces P25-N35 (human) and P12-N25 (monkey) recorded from the postcentral gyrus near the CS. 2) Motor cortex makes little or no contribution to these potentials.
- Copyright © 1991 the American Physiological Society