Although voluntary muscle contraction modulates spinal reflex excitability of contracted muscles and other muscles located at other segments within a limb (i.e., intra-limb modulation), to what extent corticospinal pathways are involved in intra-limb modulation of spinal reflex circuits remains unknown. The purpose of the present study was to identify differences in the involvement of corticospinal pathways in intra-limb modulation of spinal reflex circuits among lower-limb muscles during voluntary contractions. Ten young males performed isometric plantar-flexion, dorsi-flexion, knee extension, and knee flexion at 10% of each maximal torque. Electromyographic activity was recorded from soleus, tibialis anterior, vastus lateralis, and biceps femoris muscles. Motor evoked potentials and posterior root-muscle reflexes during rest and isometric contractions were elicited from the lower-limb muscles using transcranial magnetic stimulation and transcutaneous spinal cord stimulation, respectively. Motor evoked potential and posterior root-muscle reflex amplitudes of soleus during knee extension were significantly increased compared to rest. The motor evoked potential amplitude of biceps femoris during dorsi-flexion was significantly increased, whereas the posterior root-muscle reflex amplitude of biceps femoris during dorsi-flexion was significantly decreased compared to rest. These results suggest that corticospinal and spinal reflex excitabilities of soleus are facilitated during knee extension, whereas intra-limb modulation of biceps femoris during dorsi-flexion appeared to be inverse between corticospinal and spinal reflex circuits.
- Corticospinal excitability
- Spinal cord stimulation
- Spinal reflex excitability
- Transcranial magnetic stimulation
ASJC Scopus subject areas