Motor imagery (MI) is similar to overt movement, engaging common neural substrates and facilitating the corticomotor pathway; however, it does not result in excitatory descending motor output. Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) can be used to assess inhibitory networks in the primary motor cortex via measures of 1-ms short-interval intracortical inhibition (SICI), long-interval intracortical inhibition (LICI), and late cortical disinhibition (LCD). These measures are thought to reflect extrasynaptic GABAA tonic inhibition, postsynaptic GABAB inhibition, and presynaptic GABAB disinhibition, respectively. The behavior of 1-ms SICI, LICI, and LCD during MI has not yet been explored. This study aimed to investigate how 1-ms SICI, LICI, and LCD are modulated during MI and voluntary relaxation (VR) of a target muscle. Twenty-five healthy young adults participated. TMS was used to assess nonconditioned motor evoked potential (MEP) amplitude, 1-ms SICI, 100- (LICI100) and 150-ms LICI, and LCD in the right abductor pollicis brevis (APB) and right abductor digiti minimi during rest, MI, and VR of the hand. Compared with rest, MEP amplitudes were facilitated in APB during MI. SICI was not affected by task or muscle. LICI100 decreased in both muscles during VR but not MI, whereas LCD was recruited in both muscles during both tasks. This indicates that VR modulates postsynaptic GABAB inhibition, whereas both tasks modulate presynaptic GABAB inhibition in a non-muscle-specific way. This study highlights further neurophysiological parallels between actual and imagined movement, which may extend to voluntary relaxation.
NEW & NOTEWORTHY This is the first study to investigate how 1-ms short-interval intracortical inhibition, long-interval intracortical inhibition, and late cortical disinhibition are modulated during motor imagery and voluntary muscle relaxation. We present novel findings of decreased 100-ms long-interval intracortical inhibition during voluntary muscle relaxation and increased late cortical disinhibition during both motor imagery and voluntary muscle relaxation.
- transcranial magnetic stimulation
- motor cortex
- motor imagery
- Copyright © 2017 the American Physiological Society
Please sign in below with your personal user name and password.