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Finger somatotopy is preserved after tetraplegia but deteriorates over time


Kikkert, Sanne; Pfyffer, Dario; Verling, Michaela; Freund, Patrick; Wenderoth, Nicole (2021). Finger somatotopy is preserved after tetraplegia but deteriorates over time. eLife, 10:e67713.

Abstract

Previous studies showed reorganised and/or altered activity in the primary sensorimotor cortex after a spinal cord injury (SCI), suggested to reflect abnormal processing. However, little is known about whether somatotopically specific representations can be activated despite reduced or absent afferent hand inputs. In this observational study, we used functional MRI and a (attempted) finger movement task in tetraplegic patients to characterise the somatotopic hand layout in primary somatosensory cortex. We further used structural MRI to assess spared spinal tissue bridges. We found that somatotopic hand representations can be activated through attempted finger movements in the absence of sensory and motor hand functioning, and no spared spinal tissue bridges. Such preserved hand somatotopy could be exploited by rehabilitation approaches that aim to establish new hand-brain functional connections after SCI (e.g. neuroprosthetics). However, over years since SCI the hand representation somatotopy deteriorated, suggesting that somatotopic hand representations are more easily targeted within the first years after SCI.

Abstract

Previous studies showed reorganised and/or altered activity in the primary sensorimotor cortex after a spinal cord injury (SCI), suggested to reflect abnormal processing. However, little is known about whether somatotopically specific representations can be activated despite reduced or absent afferent hand inputs. In this observational study, we used functional MRI and a (attempted) finger movement task in tetraplegic patients to characterise the somatotopic hand layout in primary somatosensory cortex. We further used structural MRI to assess spared spinal tissue bridges. We found that somatotopic hand representations can be activated through attempted finger movements in the absence of sensory and motor hand functioning, and no spared spinal tissue bridges. Such preserved hand somatotopy could be exploited by rehabilitation approaches that aim to establish new hand-brain functional connections after SCI (e.g. neuroprosthetics). However, over years since SCI the hand representation somatotopy deteriorated, suggesting that somatotopic hand representations are more easily targeted within the first years after SCI.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Balgrist University Hospital, Swiss Spinal Cord Injury Center
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Scopus Subject Areas:Life Sciences > General Neuroscience
Life Sciences > General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
Life Sciences > General Immunology and Microbiology
Language:English
Date:19 October 2021
Deposited On:15 Nov 2021 10:49
Last Modified:26 Apr 2024 01:36
Publisher:eLife Sciences Publications Ltd.
ISSN:2050-084X
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:PubMed ID. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.7554/eLife.67713
PubMed ID:34665133
  • Content: Published Version
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)