I-waves in motor cortex

J Clin Neurophysiol. 2000 Jul;17(4):397-405. doi: 10.1097/00004691-200007000-00005.


I-waves refer to high-frequency (approximately 600 Hz) repetitive discharge of corticospinal fibers produced by single-pulse stimulation of the motor cortex. First detected in animal preparations, this multiple discharge can also be recorded in humans with epidural electrodes over the spinal cord, and with recently developed noninvasive paired-pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation protocols. The exact nature of the generation of I-waves is still unclear, but there is convincing evidence that they originate in the motor cortex, mainly through activation of corticocortical projections onto corticospinal neurons. The ability to measure I-waves in human motor cortex allows one to test the integrity and excitability of the underlying corticocortical circuits in health and disease.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Interneurons / physiology
  • Magnetics
  • Motor Cortex / physiology*
  • Nerve Fibers / physiology
  • Spinal Cord / physiology