Stability of corticospinal excitability and grip force in intrinsic hand muscles in man over a 24-h period

Physiol Behav. 2003 Sep;79(4-5):679-82. doi: 10.1016/s0031-9384(03)00170-7.


The maximum voluntary muscle force can vary throughout the day; typically being low in the morning and high in the evening. The nature of this possible variation has been investigated with respect to corticospinal excitability. Six healthy subjects were studied. Maximum voluntary contraction (MVC) in the thenar muscles was measured. In addition, we monitored several indices of corticospinal excitability using electromyographic (EMG) recording and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) of the motor cortex. Motor evoked potentials (MEPs) were recorded while relaxed and at 10% MVC when the silent period was assessed as an index of corticospinal inhibition. Readings were taken every 3 h for 24 h. MVC of the thenar muscles did not change significantly over the 24 h. The mean areas, latencies and durations of MEPs did not show significant changes over the 24-h test period with the muscle relaxed or contracted; however, MEP area did vary between sessions at all stimulus intensities suggesting non-time-of-day-dependent changes in corticospinal excitability. Furthermore, the extent and duration of the silent period seen after the MEP in the contracted muscle did not change significantly over the 24 h of the experiment at any stimulus intensity. These results provide evidence that the MVC force of the thenar muscles and their responses to TMS are stable throughout the course of the day and suggest that, in hand muscles, corticospinal excitability may not be subject to circadian variation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arousal / physiology*
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Circadian Rhythm / physiology*
  • Electromyography
  • Evoked Potentials, Motor / physiology
  • Female
  • Hand Strength / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle, Skeletal / innervation
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Spinal Cord / physiology*