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, 237 (8), 2023-2033

Corticospinal Excitability Changes Following Downhill and Uphill Walking

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Corticospinal Excitability Changes Following Downhill and Uphill Walking

Yoann M Garnier et al. Exp Brain Res.

Abstract

Locomotor exercise may induce corticospinal excitability and/or cortical inhibition change in the knee extensors. This study investigated whether the mode of muscle contraction involved during a locomotor exercise modulates corticospinal and intracortical responsiveness. Eleven subjects performed two 45-min treadmill walking exercises in an uphill (+ 15%) or a downhill (- 15%) condition matched for speed. Maximal voluntary isometric torque (MVIC), voluntary activation level (VAL), doublet (Dt) twitch torque, and M-wave area of the knee extensors were assessed before and after exercise. At the same time-points, motor-evoked potential (MEP), cortical silent period (CSP), and short-interval cortical inhibition (SICI) were recorded in the vastus lateralis (VL) and rectus femoris (RF) muscles. After exercise, uphill and downhill conditions induced a similar loss in MVIC torque (- 9%; p < 0.001), reduction in VAL (- 7%; p < 0.001), and in M-wave area in the VL muscle (- 8%; p < 0.001). Dt twitch torque decreased only after the downhill exercise (- 11%; p < 0.001). MEP area of the VL muscle increased after the downhill condition (p = 0.007), with no change after the uphill condition. MEP area of the RF muscle remained stable after exercises. CSP and SICI did not change in the two conditions for both muscles. Downhill walking induces an increase in MEP area of the VL muscle, with no change of the CSP duration or SICI ratio. The eccentric mode of muscle contraction during a locomotor exercise can modulate specifically corticospinal excitability in the knee extensors.

Keywords: Cortical inhibition; Knee extensors; Transcranial magnetic stimulation; Treadmill exercise.

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