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Type: Journal article
Title: Hemispheric differences in motor cortex excitability during a simple index finger abduction task in humans
Author: Semmler, J.
Nordstrom, M.
Citation: Journal of Neurophysiology, 1998; 79(3):1246-1254
Publisher: American Physiological Society
Issue Date: 1998
ISSN: 0022-3077
Statement of
John G. Semmler and Michael A. Nordstrom
Abstract: Hemispheric differences in motor cortex excitability during a simple index finger abduction task in humans. J. Neurophysiol. 79: 1246–1254, 1998.Transcranial magnetic (TMS) and electrical (TES) stimulation was used to assess the contribution of the corticospinal pathway to activation of the first dorsal interosseous muscle (FDI) in each hand of 16 right-handed subjects. TMS was applied at relaxed threshold intensity while the subject performed isometric index finger abduction at seven force levels [0.5 N to 50% maximal voluntary contraction (MVC)]. In a separate session, TES of equivalent intensity was applied to each hemisphere in 5 of these subjects while they performed the same force-matching protocol. In the resting state, mean threshold intensity for a muscle-evoked potential (MEP) in FDI using TMS was similar for the hemispheres controlling the dominant and nondominant hands. The size of the threshold MEPs in resting FDI after TMS and TES were also similar in each hand. With TMS, contraction-induced facilitation of the MEP in FDI was significantly larger when the nondominant hand was used for index finger abduction. In the pooled data, the nondominant/dominant ratio of MEP areas (normalized to the maximum M wave) ranged from 1.7 in the weakest contraction (0.5 N) to 1.1 in the strongest (50% MVC). Eight subjects had significant differences between hands in favour of the nondominant hand, whereas in two subjects contraction-induced facilitation of MEPs was larger in the dominant hand. In five subjects for whom detailed motor unit data were available from a previous study, lateral differences in MEP facilitation were positively correlated with differences in FDI motor unit synchronization between hands. With TES, contraction-induced facilitation of the MEP was similar in each hand, suggesting that spinal excitability was equivalent on both sides. For the group of five subjects tested with both stimulation techniques, contraction-induced facilitation of the MEP was significantly larger after TMS than that obtained with TES when the contraction was performed with the nondominant hand, but not when the dominant hand was used to perform the task. We conclude that the extent of corticospinal neuron involvement in the command for simple index finger abduction in right-handed subjects is generally greater when the nondominant hand is used, compared with the same task performed with the dominant hand.
Keywords: Fingers
Muscle, Skeletal
Motor Cortex
Motor Activity
Sensory Thresholds
Psychomotor Performance
Evoked Potentials
Isometric Contraction
Middle Aged
Functional Laterality
Rights: © 1998, The American Physiological Society
DOI: 10.1152/jn.1998.79.3.1246
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