Immaturity of somatosensory cortical processing in human newborns

Leena Lauronen*, Päivi Nevalainen, Heidi Wikström, Lauri Parkkonen, Yoshio Okada, Elina Pihko

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

49 Citations (Scopus)


The development of the early component of somatosensory evoked potentials (SEPs) from the neonatal N1 to adult N20 response has previously been described. The main emphasis has been on the change in the response latency during maturation. We used magnetoencephalography (MEG) to characterize the cortical generators of the N1 and the subsequent response in healthy human newborns. Furthermore, we studied the maturation of tactile processing according to responses evoked by tactile stimulation of the index finger in newborns, 6-month-old babies and adults. This study provides evidence of specific differences in the somatosensory processing in neonates compared to that in adults. Although the initial cortical response to electrical median nerve stimulation in the newborns was similar in field distribution to the corresponding N20m in adults, the subsequent major deflection in the response waveform had the opposite polarity. Similar immaturity in cortical processing was seen in the tactile evoked fields in both the newborns and the 6-month-old infants compared with the adults. Our results indicate that although the somatosensory pathway in full-term newborns is sufficiently developed to supply the brain with tactile information, the cortical neuronal networks for processing the input may not function in the same way as in adults.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)195-203
Number of pages9
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2006
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


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