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Published April 25, 2023 | Published
Journal Article Open

S1 represents multisensory contexts and somatotopic locations within and outside the bounds of the cortical homunculus


Recent literature suggests that tactile events are represented in the primary somatosensory cortex (S1) beyond its long-established topography; in addition, the extent to which S1 is modulated by vision remains unclear. To better characterize S1, human electrophysiological data were recorded during touches to the forearm or finger. Conditions included visually observed physical touches, physical touches without vision, and visual touches without physical contact. Two major findings emerge from this dataset. First, vision strongly modulates S1 area 1, but only if there is a physical element to the touch, suggesting that passive touch observation is insufficient to elicit neural responses. Second, despite recording in a putative arm area of S1, neural activity represents both arm and finger stimuli during physical touches. Arm touches are encoded more strongly and specifically, supporting the idea that S1 encodes tactile events primarily through its topographic organization but also more generally, encompassing other areas of the body.

Additional Information

© 2023 The Author(s). This is an open access article under the CC BY license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). We thank S. Wandelt and D. Bjånes for helpful discussions and insights, S. Norman for invaluable assistance building the pressure-sensing equipment, and participant F.G. for his effort and dedication to the study. This research was supported by the T&C Chen Brain-Machine Interface Center, the Boswell Foundation, NIH/NRSA grant T32 NS105595, and NIH/NINDS grants U01NS098975 and U01NS123127. Author contributions: I.A.R., L.B., S.K., and R.A.A. designed the study. I.A.R. developed the experimental tasks. I.A.R. and L.B. collected data. I.A.R. analyzed the results. I.A.R. and L.B. interpreted the results. I.A.R. wrote the paper. I.A.R., L.B., and R.A.A. reviewed and edited the paper. K.P. coordinated regulatory requirements of clinical trials. C.L. and B.L. performed the surgery to implant the microelectrode arrays. The authors declare no competing interests. Inclusion and diversity: We support inclusive, diverse, and equitable conduct of research. Data and code availability: Original data is available at Zenodo and is publically available as of the date of publication. The DOI is listed in the key resources table. All original code has been deposited at Zenodo and is publically available as of the date of publication. The DOI is listed in the key resources table. Any additional information required to reanalyze the data reported in this paper is available from the lead contact upon request.

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August 22, 2023
December 22, 2023