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J Appl Physiol (1985). 2012 Apr;112(8):1258-67. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.01291.2011. Epub 2012 Feb 2.

Contraction level-related modulation of corticomuscular coherence differs between the tibialis anterior and soleus muscles in humans.

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  • 1Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Keio University School of Medicine, Tokyo, Japan.


The sensorimotor cortex activity measured by scalp EEG shows coherence with electromyogram (EMG) activity within the 15- to 35-Hz frequency band (β-band) during weak to moderate intensity of isometric voluntary contraction. This coupling is known to change its frequency band to the 35- to 60-Hz band (γ-band) during strong contraction. This study aimed to examine whether such contraction level-related modulation of corticomuscular coupling differs between muscles with different muscle compositions and functions. In 11 healthy young adults, we quantified the coherence between EEG over the sensorimotor cortex and rectified EMG during tonic isometric voluntary contraction at 10-70% of maximal voluntary contraction of the tibialis anterior (TA) and soleus (SOL) muscles, respectively. In the TA, the EEG-EMG coherence shifted from the β-band to the γ-band with increasing contraction level. Indeed, the magnitude of β-band EEG-EMG coherence was significantly decreased, whereas that of γ-band coherence was significantly increased, when the contraction level was above 60% of maximal voluntary contraction. In contrast to the TA, the SOL showed no such frequency changes of EEG-EMG coherence with alterations in the contraction levels. In other words, the maximal peak of EEG-EMG coherence in the SOL existed within the β-band, irrespective of the contraction levels. These findings suggest that the central nervous system regulates the frequency of corticomuscular coupling to exert the desired levels of muscle force and, notably, that the applicable rhythmicity of the coupling for performing strong contractions differs between muscles, depending on the physiological muscle compositions and functions of the contracting muscle.

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