The somatosensory cortical activity in individuals with cerebral palsy displays an aberrant developmental trajectory

Michael P. Trevarrow, Joseph Kleinsmith, Brittany K. Taylor, Tony W. Wilson, Max J. Kurz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Key points: Individuals with cerebral palsy (CP) have a reduced somatosensory cortical response Somatosensory cortical response strength decreases from adolescence to early adulthood Somatosensory cortical responses in youth with CP are similar to adult controls Individuals with CP may have aberrant maturation of the somatosensory system. Abstract: Numerous studies have documented tactile and proprioceptive deficits in children with cerebral palsy (CP) and linked these with weaker somatosensory cortical activity. However, whether such aberrations in somatosensory processing extend and/or progress into adulthood remains poorly understood. In the current study, we used magnetoencephalography (MEG) to investigate the primary somatosensory responses in a sample of individuals with CP (N = 42; age = 9–28 years) and a cohort of healthy controls (N = 23; age range = 11–23 years). Briefly, transient electrical stimulation was applied to the right tibial nerve, and standardized low-resolution brain electromagnetic tomography (sLORETA) was used to image the dynamic somatosensory cortical response. We found that the strength of somatosensory cortical activity within the 112–252 ms time window was significantly reduced in the individuals with CP compared with the healthy controls (HC = 286.53 ± 30.51, 95% CI [226.74, 346.32]; CP = 208.30 ± 19.66,CI [169.77, 246.83], P = 0.0126). These results corroborate previous findings of aberrant somatosensory cortical activity in individuals with CP. Our results also suggest that the somatosensory cortical activity tends to become weaker with age, with a similar rate of neurophysiological change in individuals with CP and healthy controls (P = 0.8790). Visualization of regression models fitted to the data imply that youth with CP may have somatosensory cortical activity similar to adult controls. These findings suggest that some individuals with CP exhibit an aberrant developmental trajectory of their somatosensory system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1281-1289
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Physiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 15 2021


  • lower extremity
  • magnetoencephalography
  • sLORETA extremity
  • sensorimotor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology


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