Predictability of the target stimulus for sensory-guided movement modulates early somatosensory cortical potentials

Wynn Legon, W. Richard Staines

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Objective: To investigate the role of sensory modulation in the control of sensory-guided behaviour. Specifically, we hypothesized that early somatosensory evoked potentials (SEPs) would be facilitated during performance of continuous sensory-guided movement requiring sustained attention. Methods: Median nerve SEPs were elicited via electrical stimulation and recorded from scalp electrodes while subjects performed tasks requiring continuous sensory-motor transformations. Subjects received a predictable (rhythmic amplitude modulation) or unpredictable (random amplitude modulation) amplitude varying tactile stimulus (frequency constant at 20 Hz) delivered to the tip of the index finger either alone or with the requirement to track it by modulating the isometric grip force produced by the opposite hand. Results: Early SEP (N20-P27) amplitudes were differentially modulated during unpredictable tracking compared to sensory-motor controls. Specifically, N20 amplitudes were attenuated and P27 amplitudes were enhanced during sensory-guided tracking. Conclusions: Sustained attention to task-relevant sensory stimuli differentially modulates areas within primary somatosensory cortex (S1) during a continuous sensory-motor transformation. Significance: These data have implications for understanding the role of attention in regulating somatosensory cortices during sensory-motor behaviour.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1345-1353
Number of pages9
JournalClinical Neurophysiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2006

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by a research grant to WRS from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and infrastructure funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation and the Ontario Innovation Trust. The authors also wish to thank two anonymous reviewers for insightful comments on the manuscript.

Copyright 2008 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Attention
  • Motor control
  • Sensorimotor integration
  • Sensory gating
  • Somatosensory evoked potentials


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