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Cortical interaction of bilateral inputs is similar for noxious and innocuous stimuli but leads to different perceptual effects
Experimental Brain Research  (IF1.972),  Pub Date : 2021-07-19, DOI: 10.1007/s00221-021-06175-9
Stéphane Northon, Zoha Deldar, Mathieu Piché

The cerebral integration of somatosensory inputs from multiple sources is essential to produce adapted behaviors. Previous studies suggest that bilateral somatosensory inputs interact differently depending on stimulus characteristics, including their noxious nature. The aim of this study was to clarify how bilateral inputs evoked by noxious laser stimuli, noxious shocks, and innocuous shocks interact in terms of perception and brain responses. The experiment comprised two conditions (right-hand stimulation and concurrent stimulation of both hands) in which painful laser stimuli, painful shocks and non-painful shocks were delivered. Perception, somatosensory-evoked potentials (P45, N100, P260), laser-evoked potentials (N1, N2 and P2) and event-related spectral perturbations (delta to gamma oscillation power) were compared between conditions and stimulus modalities. The amplitude of negative vertex potentials (N2 or N100) and the power of delta/theta oscillations were increased in the bilateral compared with unilateral condition, regardless of the stimulus type (P < 0.01). However, gamma oscillation power increased for painful and non-painful shocks (P < 0.01), but not for painful laser stimuli (P = 0.08). Despite the similarities in terms of brain activity, bilateral inputs interacted differently for painful stimuli, for which perception remained unchanged, and non-painful stimuli, for which perception increased. This may reflect a ceiling effect for the attentional capture by noxious stimuli and warrants further investigations to examine the regulation of such interactions by bottom–up and top–down processes.