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Evidence for shared neural information between muscle synergies and corticospinal efficacy.

  • Author(s): Young, David R;
  • Banks, Caitlin L;
  • McGuirk, Theresa E;
  • Patten, Carolynn
  • et al.

Stroke survivors often exhibit gait dysfunction which compromises self-efficacy and quality of life. Muscle Synergy Analysis (MSA), derived from electromyography (EMG), has been argued as a method to quantify the complexity of descending motor commands and serve as a direct correlate of neural function. However, controversy remains regarding this interpretation, specifically attribution of MSA as a neuromarker. Here we sought to determine the relationship between MSA and accepted neurophysiological parameters of motor efficacy in healthy controls, high (HFH), and low (LFH) functioning stroke survivors. Surface EMG was collected from twenty-four participants while walking at their self-selected speed. Concurrently, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) was administered, during walking, to elicit motor evoked potentials (MEPs) in the plantarflexor muscles during the pre-swing phase of gait. MSA was able to differentiate control and LFH individuals. Conversely, motor neurophysiological parameters, including soleus MEP area, revealed that MEP latency differentiated control and HFH individuals. Significant correlations were revealed between MSA and motor neurophysiological parameters adding evidence to our understanding of MSA as a correlate of neural function and highlighting the utility of combining MSA with other relevant outcomes to aid interpretation of this analysis technique.

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