Neural interactions between regulatory systems for rhythmic arm and leg movements are an intriguing issue in locomotor neuroscience. Amplitudes of early latency cutaneous reflexes (ELCRs) in stationary arm muscles are modulated during rhythmic leg or arm cycling, but not during limb positioning or voluntary contraction. This suggests that interneurons mediating ELCRs to arm muscles integrate outputs from neural systems controlling rhythmic limb movements. Alternatively, outputs could be integrated at the motoneuron and/or supraspinal levels. We examined whether a separate effect on the ELCR pathways and cortico-motoneuronal excitability during arm and leg cycling is integrated by neural elements common to the lumbo-sacral and cervical spinal cord. The subjects performed bilateral leg cycling (LEG), contralateral arm cycling (ARM), and simultaneous contralateral arm and bilateral leg cycling (A&L), while ELCRs in the wrist flexor and shoulder flexor muscles were evoked by superficial radial (SR) nerve stimulation. ELCR amplitudes were facilitated by cycling tasks and were larger during A&L than during ARM and LEG. A low stimulus intensity during ARM or LEG generated a larger ELCR during A&L than the sum of ELCRs during ARM+LEG. We confirmed this non-linear increase in single motor unit firing probability following SR nerve stimulation during A&L. Furthermore, motor-evoked potentials following transcranial magnetic and electrical stimulation did not show non-linear potentiation during A&L. These findings suggest the existence of a common neural element of the ELCR reflex pathway that is active only during rhythmic arm and leg movement and receives convergent input from contralateral arms and legs.
- Cutaneous reflex
- Interlimb interaction
- Rhythm generating system
- Copyright © 2015, Journal of Neurophysiology