The influence of sensory afferent input on local motor cortical excitatory circuitry in humans

J Physiol. 2015 Apr 1;593(7):1667-84. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.2014.286245. Epub 2015 Jan 30.


In human, sensorimotor integration can be investigated by combining sensory input and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). Short latency afferent inhibition (SAI) refers to motor cortical inhibition 20-25 ms after median nerve stimulation. We investigated the interaction between SAI and short-interval intracortical facilitation (SICF), an excitatory motor cortical circuit. Seven experiments were performed. Contrary to expectations, SICF was facilitated in the presence of SAI (SICF(SAI)). This effect is specific to SICF since there was no effect at SICF trough 1 when SICF was absent. Furthermore, the facilitatory SICF(SAI) interaction increased with stronger SICF or SAI. SAI and SICF correlated between individuals, and this relationship was maintained when SICF was delivered in the presence of SAI, suggesting an intrinsic relationship between SAI and SICF in sensorimotor integration. The interaction was present at rest and during muscle contraction, had a broad degree of somatotopic influence and was present in different interneuronal SICF circuits induced by posterior-anterior and anterior-posterior current directions. Our results are compatible with the finding that projections from sensory to motor cortex terminate in both superficial layers where late indirect (I-) waves are thought to originate, as well as deeper layers with more direct effect on pyramidal output. This interaction is likely to be relevant to sensorimotor integration and motor control.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Afferent Pathways / physiology
  • Electromyography
  • Evoked Potentials, Motor
  • Female
  • Hand / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Cortex / physiology*
  • Muscle Contraction
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Neural Inhibition
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation
  • Young Adult