Microelectrode studies of normal organization and plasticity of human somatosensory thalamus

S. E. Hua, I. M. Garonzik, J. I. Lee, F. A. Lenz

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Microelectrode studies of single units in the human thalamus during stereotactic surgery offer a unique opportunity to study the organization and plasticity of the sensory thalamus. In this review the authors present results using single-unit microelectrode recording in the mapping of human sensory thalamus in a variety of patients. First they outline the overall organization of the human sensory thalamus, including both somatosensory and pain pathways. They also show that the sensory maps for receptive and projection fields can be altered during pathologic states such as amputation and spinal transection. Additionally, the sensory maps show plasticity during states with abnormal patterns of motor activity, like dystonia. Lastly, they discuss the processing of painful and emotionally laden sensory experiences through the thalamus. The physiologic results of thalamic pain processing are discussed in relation to the sensory-limbic model of pain. The studies reviewed demonstrate the spectrum of stimulus processing and plasticity of both painful and nonpainful signals by the human thalamus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)559-574
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Clinical Neurophysiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2000


  • Amputation
  • Dystonia
  • Neurophysiology
  • Sensory reorganization
  • Single-neuron recordings
  • Ventral posterior thalamus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Physiology (medical)


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