Microstimulation in the Region of the Human Thalamic Principal Somatic Sensory Nucleus Evokes Sensations Like Those of Mechanical Stimulation and Movement

Shinji Ohara, Nirit Weiss, Frederick Lenz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


We explored the region of human thalamic somatic sensory nucleus (ventral caudal, Vc), corresponding to monkey ventral posterior (VP), with threshold microstimulation (TMIS) during stereotactic procedures for the treatment of tremor. Of 122 sites in 116 patients (124 thalami) where mechanical (touch, pressure, and sharp) or movement [movement through the body (movement) and vibration] sensations were evoked, 72 sites were found in the core or in adjacent regions, posterior-inferior (33), inferior (4), and posterior to the core (13). Sites where TMIS evoked touch were less frequently found in the core than those where movement or pressure sensations were evoked. Pressure was more commonly (P <0.05) evoked than vibration at sites where cells had intraoral receptive fields (RFs). Touch and vibration were more commonly (P <0.05) evoked than pressure at sites where cells had facial RFs, consistent with the relative density of rapidly adapting (RA) receptors in the mouth and face. Sites described as deep and movement were found superior and anterior in the core, consistent with the location of cells responding to stimulation of muscle afferents. At 72 of 122 sites, TMIS evoked the same sensation at two or more sites in the same plane. Of these sites, 58 are adjacent to each other, in a cluster, consistent with studies of the localization of cells responding to different modalities. These results demonstrate that mechanical and movement sensations can be evoked by stimulation in the region of Vc. The characteristics of these sites suggest that the sensations are evoked by stimulation of pathways specific to cutaneous and deep mechanoreceptors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)736-745
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Neurophysiology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2004


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Neuroscience(all)

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