The central sulcus (CS) is an important landmark in the brain that delineates functional cortical regions essential in neurological resection or surgery. Dr. Gerwin Schalk, Director of the Chen Frontier Lab for Applied Neurotechnology, and a team of scientists and researchers from other universities developed a new, automated procedure that uses median nerve stimulation (MNS) to rapidly localize the central sulcus and create somatotopic maps.
To achieve this, the group of researchers recorded signals from the surface of the brain (electrocorticography (ECoG)) from 13 patients who underwent MNS during workup for surgical resection of an epileptic focus. The results, published in the Journal of Neural Engineering on July 26, 2022, showed that their procedure had a high sensitivity (89%) in identifying the CS. The team also found significant consistency between the functional somatotopic maps generated by our method and passive functional mapping (92% sensitivity).
The benefit of the automated procedure is that it can rapidly localize the CS and create functional somatotopic maps without imposing additional burden on the clinical procedure. With additional development and validation, their method could lead to a diagnostic tool that guides neurosurgeons and reduces postoperative morbidity in patients undergoing resective brain surgery.