Abstract Background While SII cortex is considered to be the first cortical stage of the pathway that integrates tactile information arising from both sides of the body, SI cortex is generally not considered as a region in which neuronal response is modulated by simultaneous stimulation of bilateral (and mirror-image) skin sites. Results Optical intrinsic signal imaging was used to evaluate the response of SI and SII in the same hemisphere to 25 Hz sinusoidal vertical skin displacement stimulation ("skin flutter") applied contralaterally, ipsilaterally, and bilaterally (simultaneously) to the central pads of the forepaws. A localized increase in absorbance in both SI and SII occurred in response to both contralateral and bilateral flutter stimulation. Ipsilateral flutter stimulation evoked a localized increase in absorbance in SII, but little or no change in SI absorbance. In the forepaw representational region of SI, however, bilateral stimulation of the central pads evoked a response substantially smaller (approximately 30–35% smaller) than the response to flutter stimulation of the contralateral central pad. Conclusion The finding that the response of SI cortex to bilateral central pad flutter stimulation is substantially smaller than the response evoked by a contralateral flutter stimulus, together with the recently published observation that a region located posteriorly in SII responds with a substantially larger response to a bilateral flutter stimulus than the response evoked from the contralateral central pad, lead us to propose that the SI activity evoked by contralateral skin stimulation is suppressed/inhibited (via corticocortical connections between SII and SI in the same hemisphere) by the activity a simultaneous ipsilateral skin stimulus evokes in posterior SII.