Motor cortical circuits contribute to crossed facilitation of trunk muscles induced by rhythmic arm movement

Sci Rep. 2020 Oct 13;10(1):17067. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-74005-z.


Training of one limb improves performance of the contralateral, untrained limb, a phenomenon known as cross transfer. It has been used for rehabilitation interventions, i.e. mirror therapy, in people with neurologic disorders. However, it remains unknown whether training of the upper limb can induce the cross-transfer effect to the trunk muscles. Using transcranial magnetic stimulation over the primary motor cortex (M1) we examined motor evoked potentials (MEPs) in the contralateral erector spinae (ES) muscle before and after 30 min of unilateral arm cycling in healthy volunteers. ES MEPs were increased after the arm cycling. To understand the origin of this facilitatory effect, we examined short-interval intracrotical inhibition (SICI) and cervicomedullary MEPs (CMEPs) in neural populations controlling in the ES muscle. Notably, SICI reduced after the arm cycling, while CMEPs remained the same. Using bilateral transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) in conjunction with 20 min of the arm cycling, the amplitude of ES MEPs increased to a similar extent as with 30 min of the arm cycling alone. These findings demonstrate that a single session of unilateral arm cycling induces short-term plasticity in corticospinal projections to the trunk muscle in healthy humans. The changes are likely driven by cortical mechanisms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Arm / physiology
  • Electromyography
  • Evoked Potentials, Motor / physiology
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motor Cortex / physiology*
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Torso
  • Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation
  • Young Adult