Somatosensory Evoked Potentials in Man: Maturation, Cognitive Parameters and Clinical Uses in Neurological Disorders

  • John E. Desmedt
Part of the NATO Conference Series book series (NATOCS, volume 9)


The cerebral somatosensory projection was the first to be mapped in primates and studied in intact man. While many publications have been dealing with the visual or auditory modalities (cf. Desmedt, 1977a, c) the somatosensory evoked potentials (SEP) have only recently become a topic for the many studies which elaborate on the earlier work (cf. Giblin, 1964; Debecker and Desmedt, 1964; Halliday, 1967). EPs are smaller and more localized on the scalp than the auditory or visual EPs. Furthermore the fast early components of the SEP have been distorted or missed in many studies that were done with inadequate amplifier bandpass or computer sampling rate (Desmedt et al., 1974). When these and other methodology problems are duly considered (Desmedt, 1977d), SEPs offer outstanding opportunities, namely because far field and primary cortical components, as well as later components, can be studied. Another feature is the remarkable length of the somatosensory pathway extending from peripheral nerves to spinal cord, brain stem and cortex which makes the SEP susceptible to a variety of pathological assaults that can be diagnostically explored by appropriate procedures. Finally SEPs recorded during perceptual decision tasks can differentiate cognition related changes involving either the early, middle range or later components in somatosensory perception (Desmedt et al., 1965; Desmedt and Robertson, 1977a, b; Desmedt, 1977e).


Onset Latency Median Nerve Sural Nerve Slow Wave Sleep Somatosensory Evoke Potential 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1979

Authors and Affiliations

  • John E. Desmedt
    • 1
  1. 1.Brain Research UnitUniversity of BrusselsBrusselsBelgium

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