Exercise-induced changes of motor excitability with and without sensory block

Brain Res. 2004 Apr 2;1003(1-2):68-76. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2003.12.039.


To explore interactions between the sensory and motor system, we investigated motor excitability changes following a motor exercise with and without an anesthetic block of cutaneous inputs overlying the target muscle. Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) with a focal coil was applied to determine motor output maps, intracortical inhibition (ICI) and intracortical facilitation (ICF) of the first dorsal interosseous muscle (FDI) on both sides. Twelve subjects performed phasic right index finger adductions (frequency: 0.333 Hz) for 30 min. TMS measurements were performed before and after the motor task (Experiment 1). In Experiment 2, median and radial nerve were blocked with Ropivacaine injections at the right wrist prior to the motor exercise. TMS was applied before and after induction of anesthesia and after exercise. In Experiment 3, the same anesthetic block was applied and TMS was performed before and after induction of anesthesia and after additional 30 min of rest. In Experiment 1, right FDI motor output area was enlarged, its center of gravity moved posteriorly, and ICI was reduced after the exercise. In Experiment 2, anesthesia was associated with a shrinkage of right FDI motor output area. After exercise, right FDI motor output area enlarged again but was still significantly smaller than pre-anesthesia. In both experiments, TMS results of left FDI remained unchanged. In Experiment 3, the anesthesia-induced decrease of right FDI motor output area remained unchanged after the period of rest. We conclude that a simple motor task enhanced the cortical representation of the target muscle and reduced intracortical inhibition. An impairment of cutaneous afferents decreased the cortical representation of the target muscle. The decrease of motor excitability induced by the sensory deficit could only partially be reversed by the motor exercise.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Electromagnetic Fields
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Nerve Block / methods*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*