Corticospinal excitability during shortening and lengthening actions with incremental torque output
journal contributionposted on 10.03.2021, 10:24 by Jakob SkarabotJakob Skarabot, Jamie Tallent, Stuart Goodall, Rade Durbaba, Glyn Howatson
The modulation of motor evoked potentials (MEPs), an index of corticospinal excitability, has been shown to increase during isometric contractions with incremental torque output in accordance with the contribution between motor unit recruitment and firing rate of the muscle to increases in required torque output. However, the motor unit strategy of the muscle might not be the only factor influencing this behaviour, because differences in pre‐ and postsynaptic control have been reported between lengthening and shortening or isometric contractions. In 30 healthy adults, MEPs were elicited in tibialis anterior during shortening and lengthening contractions at 15, 25, 50 and 80% of contraction‐type‐specific maximal voluntary contraction torque. Background EMG activity increased progressively with greater torque output (P < 0.001) but was similar between contraction types (P = 0.162). When normalized to the maximal muscle response, MEPs were greater during shortening compared with lengthening contractions (P = 0.004) and increased stepwise with increased contraction intensities (P = 0.001). These data show an increase in corticospinal excitability with torque output from lower to higher contraction intensities, suggesting a greater contribution of motor unit recruitment to increased nervous system gain in the tibialis anterior. Despite differences in corticospinal control of shortening and lengthening contractions, the data suggest that the corticospinal responses to increases in torque output are not dependent on contraction type, because corticospinal excitability increased to a similar extent during shortening and lengthening actions. Thus, it is likely that the relationship between motor unit recruitment and firing rate of the muscle is the main determinant of corticospinal output with variations in nervous system gain.
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