Brain Structure and Function

, Volume 224, Issue 1, pp 9–18 | Cite as

Ipsilateral somatosensory responses in humans: the tonic activity of SII and posterior insular cortex

  • Maria Del VecchioEmail author
  • Fausto Caruana
  • Ivana Sartori
  • Veronica Pelliccia
  • Giorgio Lo Russo
  • Giacomo Rizzolatti
  • Pietro Avanzini
Original Article


In the present study, we mapped the spatio-temporal dynamics of cortical responses to ipsilateral median nerve stimulation using intracerebral recordings (stereo-EEG) in 38 drug-resistant epileptic patients. Furthermore, we compared the pattern of responsiveness obtained in the same leads across ipsilateral and contralateral stimulations. Ipsilateral responses were found mostly confined to SII and posterior insula, while no activity was found in ipsilateral SI. By examining the temporal profiles of activation, ipsilateral SII showed a prominent tonic pattern, while contralateral SII exhibited both phasic and tonic responses. Beyond the localization of the active cortical nodes, these data contributed to identify the cortico-cortical connections carrying the somatosensory information to the ipsilateral hemisphere, with a major role of transcallosal projections from contralateral SII. In light of previous literature and of its localization, the functional role possibly covered by long lasting discharge in SII and insular cortex is also discussed. Overall, the presence of tonic activities was neglected so far due to the impossibility to identify deep sources along with a resolved description of their time course. The use of stereo-EEG, instead, allows one to achieve a four-dimensional characterization, complementing the classical view about the somatosensory system organization.


Stereo-EEG Cerebral cortex Touch Perysilvian region Median nerve 



MDV was supported a Grant POR-FSE 2014–2020 funded by Regione Emilia Romagna (Italy).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards and they were approved by the Ethics Committee of Niguarda Hospital (ID 939-2.12.2013) and all the patients were fully informed regarding the electrode implantation and stereo-EEG recordings.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maria Del Vecchio
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Fausto Caruana
    • 2
    • 3
  • Ivana Sartori
    • 4
  • Veronica Pelliccia
    • 4
  • Giorgio Lo Russo
    • 4
  • Giacomo Rizzolatti
    • 2
    • 3
  • Pietro Avanzini
    • 2
  1. 1.Dipartimento di Scienze Biomediche, Metaboliche e NeuroscienzeUniversity of Modena and Reggio EmiliaModenaItaly
  2. 2.Istituto di NeuroscienzeConsiglio Nazionale delle RicercheParmaItaly
  3. 3.Dipartimento di Medicina e ChirurgiaUniversity of ParmaParmaItaly
  4. 4.Centro per la Chirurgia dell’Epilessia “Claudio Munari”Ospedale Ca’ Granda-NiguardaMilanItaly

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