Transcallosal inhibitory interactions between proximal representations in the primary motor cortex remain poorly understood. In this study, we used transcranial magnetic stimulation to examine the ipsilateral silent period (iSP; a measure of transcallosal inhibition) in the biceps and triceps brachii during unilateral and bilateral isometric voluntary contractions. Healthy volunteers performed 10% of maximal isometric voluntary elbow flexion or extension with one arm while the contralateral arm remained at rest or performed 30% of maximal isometric voluntary elbow flexion or extension. The iSP was measured in the arm performing 10% contractions, and electromyographic (EMG) recordings were comparable across conditions. The iSP onset and duration in the biceps and triceps brachii were comparable. In both muscles, the iSP depth and area were increased during bilateral contractions of homologous agonist muscles (extension-extension and flexionflexion) compared with a unilateral contraction, whereas during bilateral contractions of nonhomologous antagonist muscles (extensionflexion and flexion-extension), the iSP depth and area were decreased compared with a unilateral contraction, and sometimes facilitation of EMG was seen. This effect was never observed during bilateral activation of homologous muscles. The size of responses evoked by cervicomedullary electrical stimulation in the arm that made 10% contractions remained unchanged across conditions. Thus transcallosal inhibition targeting triceps and biceps brachii is upregulated by voluntary contraction of the contralateral agonist muscle and downregulated by voluntary contraction of the contralateral antagonist muscle. We speculate that these reciprocal task-dependent interactions between bilateral flexor and extensor arm regions of the motor cortex may contribute to coupling between the arms during motor behavior.
- Interhemispheric inhibition
- Primary motor cortex
- Transcallosal pathways
- Transcranial magnetic stimulation
ASJC Scopus subject areas