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Abstract #2283

Precise mapping of the developing somatosensory homunculus in the preterm human brain with fMRI and robotic tools

Sofia Dall'Orso1, Johannes Steinweg2, Alessandro G Allievi 1, David A Edwards1,2, Etienne Burdet1, and Tomoki Arichi1,2

1Bioengineering, Imperial College London, London, United Kingdom, 2Centre for the Developing Brain, Kings College London, London, United Kingdom

The mature somatosensory cortex is known to be somatotopically organized, but it is not known when this functional organization emerges in human life. We aimed to map functional responses across the somatosensory cortex of preterm infants using fMRI and automated robotic tools. A preterm “homunculus” topology was identified with a spatially distinct distribution of functional responses following somatosensory stimulation delivered to the mouth, wrists and ankles. The results suggest that as seen in animal studies, the human preterm period is likely to be critical for the development of the somatosensory system.

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