Magnetic brain stimulation: central motor conduction studies in multiple sclerosis

Ann Neurol. 1987 Dec;22(6):744-52. doi: 10.1002/ana.410220611.


Central motor conduction (CMC) was evaluated in 32 normal subjects and 83 patients with multiple sclerosis, and the findings were correlated with clinical signs and evoked potential data. CMC time was obtained from the latency difference in responses from the abductor muscle of the little finger to magnetic stimulation of the motor cortex and electrical stimulation at the C-7/T-1 interspace. Mean CMC time in normal subjects was 6.2 msec (SD 0.86 msec), and amplitudes of responses to cortical stimuli were at least 18% of those obtained with stimuli at the wrist. CMC was abnormal in 60 patients with multiple sclerosis (72%); this correlated well with brisk finger flexor jerks (p less than 0.005). CMC was abnormal in 79% of patients with weakness of the abductor muscle of the little finger and in 54% with a normal muscle. Neurological examination was normal in 7 arms with abnormal CMC. Visual evoked potentials were abnormal in 67%, somatosensory evoked potentials in 59%, and brainstem auditory evoked potentials in 39% of those tested. For each procedure more subjects had abnormal CMC and normal evoked potentials than the reverse. The technique is of value for demonstrating and documenting central motor pathway lesions in multiple sclerosis, especially when physical signs are equivocal.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Electromagnetic Fields*
  • Electromagnetic Phenomena*
  • Evoked Potentials
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Cortex / physiopathology*
  • Motor Neurons / physiology
  • Multiple Sclerosis / physiopathology*
  • Muscles / innervation
  • Muscles / physiopathology
  • Neural Conduction*
  • Reaction Time / physiology