Sensory gating (SG) is a phenomenon in which neuronal responses to subsequent similar stimuli are weaker, and is thought to be an important mechanism for preventing excessive environmental stimulation from overloading shared neural resources. Although gating has been demonstrated in multiple sensory systems, the neural dynamics and developmental trajectory underlying SG remain poorly understood. Herein, we adopt a data-driven approach to map the spectro-temporal amplitude and functional connectivity (FC) dynamics that support gating in the somatosensory system (somato-SG) in healthy children and adolescents using magnetoencephalography (MEG). These data underwent time-frequency decomposition and the significant signal changes were imaged using a beamformer. Voxel time series were then extracted from the peak voxels and these signals were examined in the time and time-frequency domains, and subjected to dynamic FC analysis. Our results indicated a significant decrease in the amplitude of the neural response following the second stimulation relative to the first in the primary somatosensory cortex (SI). A significant decrease in response latency was also found between stimulations, and each stimulation induced a sharp decrease in FC between somatosensory cortical areas. Furthermore, there were no significant correlations between somato-SG metrics and age. We conclude that somato-SG can be observed in SI in both the time and oscillatory domains, with rich dynamics and alterations in inter-hemispheric FC, and that this phenomenon has already matured by early childhood. A better understanding of these dynamics may provide insight to the numerous psychiatric and neurologic conditions that have been associated with aberrant SG across multiple modalities.
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