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PLoS One. 2013;8(1):e55083. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0055083. Epub 2013 Jan 31.

Change in the ipsilateral motor cortex excitability is independent from a muscle contraction phase during unilateral repetitive isometric contractions.

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  • 1Human Motor Control Laboratory, Division of Human Sciences, Graduate School of Integrated Arts and Sciences, Hiroshima University, Higashi-Hiroshima, Hiroshima, Japan.


The aim of this study was to investigate the difference in a muscle contraction phase dependence between ipsilateral (ipsi)- and contralateral (contra)-primary motor cortex (M1) excitability during repetitive isometric contractions of unilateral index finger abduction using a transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) technique. Ten healthy right-handed subjects participated in this study. We instructed them to perform repetitive isometric contractions of the left index finger abduction following auditory cues at 1 Hz. The force outputs were set at 10, 30, and 50% of maximal voluntary contraction (MVC). Motor evoked potentials (MEP) were obtained from the right and left first dorsal interosseous muscles (FDI). To examine the muscle contraction phase dependence, TMS of ipsi-M1 or contra-M1 was triggered at eight different intervals (0, 20, 40, 60, 80, 100, 300, or 500 ms) after electromyogram (EMG) onset when each interval had reached the setup triggering level. Furthermore, to demonstrate the relationships between the integrated EMG (iEMG) in the active left FDI and the ipsi-M1 excitability, we assessed the correlation between the iEMG in the left FDI for the 100 ms preceding TMS onset and the MEP amplitude in the resting/active FDI for each force output condition. Although contra-M1 excitability was significantly changed after the EMG onset that depends on the muscle contraction phase, the modulation of ipsi-M1 excitability did not differ in response to any muscle contraction phase at the 10% of MVC condition. Also, we found that contra-M1 excitability was significantly correlated with iEMG in all force output conditions, but ipsi-M1 excitability was not at force output levels of below 30% of MVC. Consequently, the modulation of ipsi-M1 excitability was independent from the contraction phase of unilateral repetitive isometric contractions at least low force output.

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