Comparison of Corticospinal Excitability between Observations of Tonic Contraction and Rhythmic Movement: a TMS Study

Kanchi Ito, Yuki Osawa, Kenta Kaneko, Yutaka Kikuchi, Masato Odagaki
Vol. 6 (2017) p. 42-47

Two different experiments utilizing the motor imagery of finger movement were conducted. We attempted to reveal the difference in corticospinal excitability between tonic contraction (TC) and rhythmic movement (RM) by transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). The magnetic coil was placed over the subject’s primary motor cortex to elicit motor-evoked potentials (MEPs) by TMS. We have previously shown that the MEP amplitude is modulated by the frequency of active and passive finger movements. We hypothesized that visual feedback affects the corticospinal excitability. In the present study, the subject observed both TCs and RMs, and the MEP amplitudes elicited by TMS during both tasks were analyzed to assess changes in corticospinal excitability influenced by the motor imagery. A mirror box was used to show the subject the finger movement executed by a third person as if it were his own finger movement. For the TC task, the third person performed a pinching task consisting of TC of the index finger and thumb. The subject received visual feedback of the TC in the mirror. For the RM task, the subject observed the mirror while the third person performed RM of the index finger until TMS was applied. The frequencies of finger movement were 0.5, 1, 2, 3, and 4 Hz. The resulting MEP amplitudes for the RM task at movement frequencies of 2, 3, and 4 Hz were significantly lower than that for the TC task. These results indicate that corticospinal excitability is increased by visual feedback of TC but is modulated by that of RM.