Nonspecific facilitation of responses to transcranial magnetic stimulation

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We examined the effect of facial muscle contraction and eye movements on motor evoked potentials (MEPs) from the abductor pollicis brevis muscle (APB) evoked by transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). The hypothesis was that activity of large cortical regions (face) influences the excitability of spinal motoneurons via cortical or subcortical pathways. MEPs were recorded in 12 healthy subjects during the following conditions: (1) rest; (2) facial muscle contraction; (3) eye movements; (4) 10% precontraction of the target muscle; and (5) simultaneous target muscle precontraction and facial muscle contraction. In 9 subjects, spinal motoneuron excitability was assessed by measurements of F waves during the same facilitation maneuvers. Activation of eye and facial muscles clearly facilitated MEPs from the APB. The facilitation of MEP size during nonspecific maneuvers was almost similar to that obtained by target muscle precontraction, whereas shortening of latencies was significantly smaller. The occurrence and amplitude of F waves increased in parallel with MEP size during specific and nonspecific facilitation, pointing to spinal motoneuronal threshold changes as a potential facilitatory mechanism by facial and eye muscle activation. The different MEP latencies during specific and nonspecific facilitation were not explained by different spinal motoneuron excitability, but raise the possibility that supraspinal mechanisms contributed to nonspecific facilitation.

TidsskriftMuscle and Nerve
Udgave nummer7
Sider (fra-til)857-863
Antal sider7
StatusUdgivet - 27 jul. 1999

ID: 201453916