Altered corticospinal function during movement preparation in humans with spinal cord injury

Paolo Federico, Monica A. Perez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Scopus citations

Abstract

Key points: In uninjured humans, transmission in the corticospinal pathway changes in a task-dependent manner during movement preparation. We investigated whether this ability is preserved in humans with incomplete chronic cervical spinal cord injury (SCI). Our results show that corticospinal excitability is altered in the preparatory phase of an upcoming movement when there is a need to suppress but not to execute rapid index finger voluntary contractions in individuals with SCI compared with controls. This is probably related to impaired transmission at a cortical and spinal level after SCI. Overall our findings indicate that deficits in corticospinal transmission in humans with chronic incomplete SCI are also present in the preparatory phase of upcoming movements. Abstract: Corticospinal output is modulated in a task-dependent manner during the preparatory phase of upcoming movements in humans. Whether this ability is preserved after spinal cord injury (SCI) is unknown. In this study, we examined motor evoked potentials elicited by cortical (MEPs) and subcortical (CMEPs) stimulation of corticospinal axons and short-interval intracortical inhibition in the first dorsal interosseous muscle in the preparatory phase of a reaction time task where individuals with chronic incomplete cervical SCI and age-matched controls needed to suppress (NOGO) or initiate (GO) ballistic index finger isometric voluntary contractions. Reaction times were prolonged in SCI participants compared with control subjects and stimulation was provided ∼90 ms prior to movement onset in each group. During NOGO trials, both MEPs and CMEPs remained unchanged compared to baseline in SCI participants but were suppressed in control subjects. Notably, during GO trials, MEPs increased to a similar extent in both groups but CMEPs increased only in controls. The magnitude of short-interval intracortical inhibition increased in controls but not in SCI subjects during NOGO trials and decreased in both groups in GO trials. These novel observations reveal that humans with incomplete cervical SCI have an altered ability to modulate corticospinal excitability during movement preparation when there is a need to suppress but not to execute upcoming rapid finger movements, which is probably related to impaired transmission at a cortical and spinal level. Thus, deficits in corticospinal transmission after human SCI extend to the preparatory phase of upcoming movements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)233-245
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Physiology
Volume595
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

Keywords

  • motor cortex
  • movement inhibition
  • movement preparation
  • spinal cord

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology

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