Adaptation in human somatosensory cortex as a model of sensory memory construction: a study using high-density EEG
Brain Structure & Function
Bradley C
Joyce N
Garcia-Larrea L

Adaptation in sensory cortices has been seen as a mechanism allowing the creation of transient memory representations. Here we tested the adapting properties of early responses in human somatosensory areas SI and SII by analysing somatosensory-evoked potentials over the very first repetitions of a stimulus. SI and SII generators were identified by well-defined scalp potentials and source localisation from high-density 128-channel EEG. Earliest responses (similar to 20 ms) from area 3b in the depth of the post-central gyrus did not show significant adaptation to stimuli repeated at 300 ms intervals. In contrast, responses around 45 ms from the crown of the gyrus (areas 1 and 2) rapidly lessened to a plateau and abated at the 20th stimulation, and activities from SII in the parietal operculum at similar to 100 ms displayed strong adaptation with a steady amplitude decrease from the first repetition. Although responses in both SI (1-2) and SII areas showed adapting properties and hence sensory memory capacities, evidence of sensory mismatch detection has been demonstrated only for responses reflecting SII activation. This may index the passage from an early form of sensory storage in SI to more operational memory codes in SII, allowing the prediction of forthcoming input and the triggering of a specific signal when such input differs from the previous sequence. This is consistent with a model whereby the length of temporal receptive windows increases with progression in the cortical hierarchy, in parallel with the complexity and abstraction of neural representations.