Corticobulbar and corticospinal projections to neck muscle motoneurons in man. A functional study with magnetic and electric transcranial brain stimulation

Exp Brain Res. 1991;87(2):402-6. doi: 10.1007/BF00231857.


The cortical projections to neck muscle motoneurons were studied in normal subjects by electrical and magnetic transcranial brain stimulation. After magnetic stimulation with a large coil, motor evoked potentials were present in about 20% of relaxed and 100% of contracting neck muscles. The latency of these responses was short: about 7 ms in the sternomastoid and splenius and 9 ms in the trapezius muscles. Subtraction of the M-wave latency after stimulation of the accessory nerve at the skull base resulted in a central latency of about 4.5 ms. We suggest that rapid cortical projections connect with neck muscle motoneurons mono or disynaptically. The latency difference between the responses after electrical and magnetic stimulation was smaller in neck than in limb muscles but similar to that seen in masticatory muscles. A small magnetic coil was used to study the pattern of functional lateralization of cortical projections to neck muscle motoneurons; the projections for the sternomastoid and splenius are bilateral but predominantly contralateral, whereas those for the trapezius are exclusively contralateral.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Efferent Pathways / physiology
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Electromyography
  • Evoked Potentials
  • Humans
  • Magnetics
  • Motor Cortex / physiology
  • Motor Neurons / physiology*
  • Neck Muscles / innervation*
  • Reference Values
  • Spinal Cord / physiology*
  • Synapses / physiology