Motor Cortical Plasticity Induced by Volitional Muscle Activity-Triggered Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation and Median Nerve Stimulation
BackgroundBilateral motor training (BMT) is a useful method to modify the excitability of the corticospinal system. The effects of artificial symmetrical movement on corticospinal excitability through functional electrical stimulation (FES) or transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) have not been reported. Therefore, we compared motor-evoked potentials (MEPs) following TMS over the ipsilateral primary motor cortex (M1) of voluntary movements after conventional BMT and repetitive artificial
... ive artificial symmetrical movements generated through FES and TMS.MethodsSurface electromyograms of the abductor pollicis brevis (APB) muscles were recorded bilaterally in 12 healthy participants. Three sessions with different protocols were conducted: (1) bilateral finger training (BFT) involving bilateral thumb abduction, (2) right APB-triggered TMS of the ipsilateral M1 (APB-triggered i-TMS), and (3) right APB-triggered contralateral median nerve stimulation (APB-triggered c-MNS). Each protocol consisted of 360 trials for 30 min. Resting motor threshold (RMT), MEPs induced by single-pulse TMS, short-interval intracortical inhibition (SICI), and intracortical facilitation (ICF) induced by paired-pulse TMS were assessed as outcome measures at baseline and at 0, 20, 40, and 60 min after intervention.ResultsRMT showed no significant effect of intervention, time, or interaction. MEP amplitude showed a significant effect with time. MEP amplitude significantly increased at 0, 20, and 40 min post-intervention in BFT; at 0, 20, 40, and 60 min post-intervention in APB-triggered i-TMS; and at 20 and 40 min post-intervention in APB-triggered c-MNS in comparison to the baseline values. SICI was significantly decreased at 0 min post-intervention in the BFT and APB-triggered i-TMS protocols. ICF was significantly increased at 0 min post-intervention in the BFT and at 20 min post-intervention in the APB-triggered c-MNS protocol.ConclusionThe main finding of the present study was the long-lasting increase in MEP amplitude in all three mirror-symmetrical movement protocols. The observed changes are long-lasting and comparatively strong. However, the underlying neural mechanisms seem to be slightly different across the three protocols. Thus, whether voluntarily or artificially caused, repetitive symmetrical mirror movements enhance corticospinal excitability.