Intraoperative Direct Stimulation Identification and Preservation of Critical White Matter Tracts During Brain Surgery

Kyle J. Ortiz, Maria I. Hawayek, Erik H. Middlebrooks, David S. Sabsevitz, Diogo P. Garcia, Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa, Kaisorn L. Chaichana

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The study of brain connectomics has led to a rapid evolution in the understanding of human brain function. Traditional localizationist theories are being replaced by more accurate network, or hodologic, approaches that model brain function as widespread processes dependent on cortical and subcortical structures, as well as the white matter tracts (WMTs) that link these areas. Recent surgical literature suggests that WMTs may be more critical to preserve than cortical structures because of the comparably lower capacity of recovery of the former when damaged. Given the relevance of eloquent WMTs to neurologic function and thus quality of life, neurosurgical interventions must be tailored to maximize their preservation. Direct electric stimulation remains a vital tool for identification and avoidance of these critical tracts. Neurosurgeons therefore require proper understanding of the anatomy and function of WMTs, as well as the reported contemporary tasks used during intraoperative stimulation. We review the relevant tracts involved in language, visuospatial, and motor networks and the updated direct electric stimulation–based mapping tasks that aid in their preservation. The dominant-hemisphere language WMTs have been mapped using picture naming, semantic association, word repetition, reading, and writing tasks. For monitoring of vision and spatial functions, the modified picture naming and line bisection tasks, as well as the recording of visual evoked potentials, have been used. Repetitive movements and monitoring of motor evoked potentials and involuntary movements have been applied for preservation of the motor networks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)64-74
Number of pages11
JournalWorld neurosurgery
StatePublished - Feb 2021


  • Direct electric stimulation
  • Intraoperative mapping
  • Mapping tasks
  • White matter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


Dive into the research topics of 'Intraoperative Direct Stimulation Identification and Preservation of Critical White Matter Tracts During Brain Surgery'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this