Congenital hemiparesis: different functional reorganization of somatosensory and motor pathways

Azienda Ospedaliera Santa Maria Nuova di Reggio Emilia, Reggio nell'Emilia, Emilia-Romagna, Italy
Clinical Neurophysiology (Impact Factor: 2.98). 09/2002; 113(8):1273-8. DOI: 10.1016/S1388-2457(02)00150-5
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT To investigate the reorganization of somatosensory and motor cortex in congenital brain injury.
We recorded motor evoked potentials (MEPs) following transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and somatosensory evoked potentials (SEPs) in a 41 year old man with severe congenital right hemiparesis but only mild proprioceptive impairment. Brain magnetic resonance imaging showed a large porencephalic cavitation in the left hemisphere mainly involving the frontal and parietal lobes.
TMS showed fast-conducting projections from the undamaged primary motor cortex to both hands, whereas MEPs were not elicited from the damaged hemisphere. Left median nerve stimulation evoked normal short-latency SEPs in the contralateral undamaged somatosensory cortex. Right median nerve stimulation did not evoke any SEP in the contralateral damaged hemisphere, but a middle-latency SEP (positive-negative-positive, 39-44-48 ms) in the ipsilateral undamaged hemisphere, with a fronto-central scalp distribution.
Our data show that somatosensory function of the affected arm is preserved, most likely through slow-conducting non-lemniscal connections between the affected arm and ipsilateral non-primary somatosensory cortex. In contrast, motor function was poor despite fast-conducting ipsilateral cortico-motoneuronal output from the primary motor cortex of the undamaged hemisphere to the affected arm. This suggests that different forms of reorganization operate in congenital brain injury and that fast-conducting connections between primary cortex areas and ipsilateral spinal cord are not sufficient for preservation or recovery of function.

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