Effects of short-latency afferent inhibition on short-interval intracortical inhibition

J Neurophysiol. 2014 Mar;111(6):1350-61. doi: 10.1152/jn.00613.2013. Epub 2013 Dec 18.


Peripheral nerve stimulation inhibits the motor cortex, and the process has been termed short-latency afferent inhibition (SAI) at interstimulus intervals (ISIs) of ∼20 ms. The objective of the present study was to test how SAI interacts with short-interval intracortical inhibition (SICI) under different stimulation conditions. We studied 20 healthy volunteers. Surface electromyogram was recorded from the first dorsal interosseous muscle. Using paired- and triple-pulse paradigms, we investigated how SAI interacts with SICI under these different conditions. The effects of different conditioning stimulus (CS) intensities (0.6-0.9 active motor threshold), SAI latencies (23 and 25 ms), and ISIs (2 and 3 ms) for SICI were examined in rest and active conditions. SAI had inhibitory interactions with SICI at different CS intensities for rest or active SICI, at SAI latencies of 23 and 25 ms. This interaction occurred at weak CS intensities for SICI when there was no inhibition, and SICI became facilitatory in the presence of SAI. This can be explained by SICI inhibiting SAI and not by saturation of inhibition. The interaction between SAI and SICI was greater for SICI at ISI of 3 ms than for ISI of 2 ms, suggesting that different circuits may be activated at these ISIs. We conclude that SAI and SICI have inhibitory interactions that are influenced by factors such as ISI and muscle activities, which should be considered in design and interpretation of cortical interaction studies.

Keywords: median nerve stimulation; paired-pulse inhibition; short afferent inhibition; short-interval intracortical inhibition; transcranial magnetic stimulation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Afferent Pathways / physiology
  • Conditioning, Psychological
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Median Nerve / physiology*
  • Motor Cortex / physiology*
  • Muscle Contraction
  • Muscle, Skeletal / innervation
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Neural Inhibition*
  • Reaction Time*
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation