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Influence of task-related ipsilateral hand movement on motor cortex excitability



The time course of the right motor cortex excitability in relation to a task-related voluntary right thumb twitch was studied using sub-threshold transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to the right motor cortex.


Motor excitability was studied in 8 adult subjects who made a brief right thumb twitch to the predictable omission of every fifth tone in a series of tones 2.5 s apart. This paradigm avoided an overt sensory cue, while allowing experimental control of TMS timing relative to both movement and the cue to move. Motor excitability was characterized by several measures of motor evoked potentials (MEPs) recorded from the left thenar eminence in response to TMS over the right scalp with a 9 cm coil: probability of eliciting MEPs, incidence of MEPs and amplitude of MEPs.


All subjects showed suppression of motor excitability immediately following a voluntary right thumb twitch (ipsilateral response), and up to 1 s after it. However, two distinctly different effects on motor excitability were observed before the response: two subjects showed excitation, beginning about 500 ms before response until 300 ms after it, followed by the post-movement suppression; 6 subjects displayed pre-movement suppression, beginning about 600 ms before the response and persisting for the duration.


The net effect of an ipsilateral response on motor cortex can be either inhibitory or excitatory, changing with time relative to the response. These findings are compatible with two separate processes, inhibitory and excitatory, which interact to determine motor excitability ipsilateral to the responding hand.

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