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J Neurophysiol. 2007 Feb;97(2):1809-18. Epub 2006 Oct 25.

Neural coupling between the arms and legs during rhythmic locomotor-like cycling movement.

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1
Rehabilitation Neuroscience Laboratory, PO Box 3010, University of Victoria, Victoria, BC, Canada, V8W 3P1.

Abstract

Neuronal coupling between the arms and legs allowing coordinated rhythmic movement during locomotion is poorly understood. We used the modulation of cutaneous reflexes to probe this neuronal coupling between the arms and legs using a cycling paradigm. Participants performed rhythmic cycling with arms, legs, or arms and legs together. We hypothesized that any contributions from the arms would be functionally linked to locomotion and would thus be phase-dependent. Reflexes were evoked by electrical stimulation of the superficial peroneal nerve at the ankle, and electromyography (EMG) was recorded from muscles in the arms and legs. The main finding was that the relative contribution from the arms and legs was linked to the functional state of the legs. For example, in tibialis anterior, the largest contribution from arm movement [57% variance accounted for (VAF), P < 0.05] was during the leg power phase, whereas the largest from leg movement (71% VAF, P < 0.05) was during leg cycling recovery. Thus the contribution from the arms was functionally gated throughout the locomotor cycle in a manner that appears to support the action of the legs. Additionally, the effect of arm cycling on reflexes in leg muscles when the legs were not moving was relatively minor; full expression of the effect of rhythmic arm movement was only observed when both the arms and legs were moving. Our findings provide experimental support for the interaction of rhythmic arm and leg movement during human locomotion.

PMID:
17065245
DOI:
10.1152/jn.01038.2006
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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