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Mechanically and electrically evoked somatosensory potentials in humans: Effects of stimulus presentation rate


Somatosensory evoked potentials were recorded in response to: (1) electrical stimulation of the median nerve at the wrist; (2) electrical stimulation of the index finger; (3) mechanical stimulation of the index fingernail. Stimuli were presented at rates of 2, 4, 8, 16 and 32/sec, and the effects of presentation rate on components of the evoked potentials were evaluated. The effect of varying the duration of the mechanical stimulus was also observed. The findings suggest that stimulus rates of up to 8/sec can be used without significant loss in detectability of most of the components. The potentials recorded in response to a short duration mechanical stimulus were essentially identical to those evoked by the long duration stimulus. The findings of this study are consistent with a peripheral nerve generator for the Erb's point recorded component, a postsynaptic generator for the upper neck recorded component, and in general with a larger number of synapses leading to the generators of the later components than to earlier ones.

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