Focal magnetic coil stimulation reveals motor cortical system reorganized in humans after traumatic quadriplegia

Brain Res. 1990 Feb 26;510(1):130-4. doi: 10.1016/0006-8993(90)90738-w.


A figure of '8' magnetic coil (MC) was used to stimulate focally the motor cortex of two adult, traumatic quadriplegics and three normal adults. The two patients were injured approximately 2 years previously and had intense physiotherapy, including biofeedback training of biceps and deltoid muscles, respectively, which were the most caudal muscles spared. The focal MC elicited compound motor action potentials (CMAPs) from these muscles from a much wider area of scalp than in the normal subjects. Latency of biceps and deltoid CMAPs were inversely related to CMAP amplitude. A reorganization of the motor cortical projection system is inferred, in which areas normally eliciting digit movements instead activate muscles in quadriplegics just above the spinal level. The reorganization applies also to the central sense of movement normally elicited by focal frontal cortex stimulation. Possible mechanisms of the reorganization and an implication for rehabilitation are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials
  • Adult
  • Electromagnetic Fields*
  • Electromagnetic Phenomena*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Cortex / physiopathology*
  • Motor Neurons / physiology
  • Muscles / innervation*
  • Muscles / physiopathology
  • Quadriplegia / etiology
  • Quadriplegia / physiopathology*
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / complications
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / physiopathology*