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J Neurophysiol. 1998 Dec;80(6):2870-81.

Intracortical inhibition and facilitation in different representations of the human motor cortex.

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  • 1Human Cortical Physiology Section, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20982-1430, USA.


Intracortical inhibition and facilitation in different representations of the human motor cortex. J. Neurophysiol. 80: 2870-2881, 1998. Intracortical inhibition (ICI) and intracortical facilitation (ICF) of the human motor cortex can be studied with paired transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). Plastic changes and some neurological disorders in humans are associated with changes in ICI and ICF. Although well characterized in the hand representation, it is not known if ICI and ICF vary across different body part representations. Therefore we studied ICI and ICF in different motor representations of the human motor cortex. The target muscles were rectus abdominus (RA), biceps brachii (BB), abductor pollicis brevis (APB), quadriceps femoris (QF), and abductor hallucis (AH). For each muscle, we measured the rest and active motor thresholds (MTs), the motor-evoked potential (MEP) stimulus-response curve (MEP recruitment), ICI, and ICF. The effects of different interstimulus intervals (ISIs) were studied with a conditioning stimulus (CS) intensity of 80% active MT. The effects of different CS intensities were studied at ISI of 2 ms for ICI and ISI of 15 ms for ICF. MT was lowest for APB, followed by BB, AH, and QF, and was highest for RA. Except for BB, MEP recruitment was generally steeper for muscles with lower MT. ICI and ICF were present in all the motor representations tested. The stimulus intensity necessary to elicit ICI was consistently lower than that required to elicit ICF, suggesting that they are mediated by separate mechanisms. Despite wide differences in MT and MEP recruitment, the absolute CS intensities (expressed as percentage of the stimulator's output) required to elicit ICI and ICF appear unrelated to MT and MEP recruitment in the different muscles tested. These findings suggest that the intracortical mechanisms for inhibition and facilitation in different motor representations are not related to the strength of corticospinal projections.

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