Aberrant synchrony in the somatosensory cortices predicts motor performance errors in children with cerebral palsy

Max J. Kurz, Elizabeth Heinrichs-Graham, David J. Arpin, Katherine M. Becker, Tony W. Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Cerebral palsy (CP) results from a perinatal brain injury that often results in sensory impairments and greater errors in motor performance. Although these impairments have been well catalogued, the relationship between sensory processing networks and errors in motor performance has not been well explored. Children with CP and typically developing age-matched controls participated in this investigation. We used high-density magnetoencephalography to measure event-related oscillatory changes in the somatosensory cortices following tactile stimulation to the bottom of the foot. In addition, we quantified the amount of variability or errors in the isometric ankle joint torques as these children attempted to match a target. Our results showed that neural populations in the somatosensory cortices of children with CP were desynchronized by the tactile stimulus, whereas those of typically developing children were clearly synchronized. Such desynchronization suggests that children with CP were unable to fully integrate the external stimulus into ongoing sensorimotor computations. Our results also indicated that children with CP had a greater amount of errors in their motor output when they attempted to match the target force, and this amount of error was negatively correlated with the degree of synchronization present in the somatosensory cortices. These results are the first to show that the motor performance errors of children with CP are linked with neural synchronization within the somatosensory cortices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)573-579
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Neurophysiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 1 2014


  • Error correction
  • Magnetoencephalography
  • Motor control
  • Sensory
  • Tactile
  • Variability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Physiology


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