Send to

Choose Destination
J Neurophysiol. 2003 Nov;90(5):2850-61. Epub 2003 Jul 9.

Coordinated interlimb compensatory responses to electrical stimulation of cutaneous nerves in the hand and foot during walking.

Author information

Centre for Neuroscience, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2S2, Canada.


It has been shown that stimulation of cutaneous nerves innervating the hand (superficial radial, SR) and foot (superficial peroneal, SP) elicit widespread reflex responses in many muscles across the body. These interlimb reflex responses were suggested to be functionally relevant to assist in motor coordination between the arms and legs during motor tasks such as walking. The experiments described in this paper were conducted to test the hypothesis that interlimb reflexes were phase-dependently modulated and produced functional kinematic changes during locomotion. Subjects walked on a treadmill while electromyographic (EMG) activity was collected continuously from all four limbs, and kinematic recordings were made of angular changes across the ankle, knee, elbow, and shoulder joints. Cutaneous reflexes were evoked by delivering trains of electrical stimulation pseudorandomly to the SP nerve or SR nerves in separate trials. Reflexes were phase-averaged according to the time of occurrence in the step cycle, and phasic amplitudes and latencies were calculated. For both nerves, significant phase-dependent modulation (including reflex reversals) of interlimb cutaneous reflex responses was seen in most muscles studied. Both SR and SP nerve stimulation resulted in significant alteration in ankle joint kinematics. The results suggest coordinated and functionally relevant reflex pathways from the SP and SR nerves onto motoneurons innervating muscles in nonstimulated limbs during walking, thus extending observations from the cat to that of the bipedal human.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Atypon
Loading ...
Support Center