Amplitude of muscle stretch modulates corticomotor gain during passive movement

James P Coxon, James W Stinear, Winston D Byblow
Brain Research 2005 January 7, 1031 (1): 109-17
Previous studies have shown that the excitability of corticomotor projections to forearm muscles exhibit phasic modulation during passive movement (flexion-extension) about the wrist joint. We examined the stimulus-response properties of flexor carpi radialis (FCR) and extensor carpi radialis (ECR) to transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) applied over the contralateral motor cortex while the wrist was moved passively at two different sinusoidal frequency-amplitude relationships. Movement velocity (and therefore, the rate of change in muscle length) at the time of stimulation was held constant. Motor evoked potential (MEP) amplitudes were facilitated during passive muscle shortening and suppressed during passive muscle lengthening with suppression being more evident at higher stimulation intensities. For both FCR and ECR, during the shortening phase, responses were facilitated during the large amplitude movement relative to the small amplitude movement. It is suggested that the altered gain may be related to the thixotropic properties of muscle.

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