Cortico-spinal inhibition reflects time but not event preparation: A transcranial magnetic study.


  • Hasbroucq Thierry
  • Osman Allen
  • Possamai Camille-Aimé
  • Burle Boris
  • Carron Stéphane
  • Depy Delphine
  • Latour Sébastien
  • Mouret Isabelle


  • Reaction time
  • Preparation
  • Motor cortex
  • Cortico-spinal tract
  • Transcranial magnetic stimulation

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Changes in cortico-spinal excitability related to time and event preparation were investigated by transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) of the motor cortex during the foreperiod of a movement-precuing task. Subjects performed a four alternative choice reaction time (RT) task involving a button-press with the index or middle finger (FI) of the left or right hand. Advance information about the to-be-signaled response was provided by a precue, which preceded the response signal by a 1 s foreperiod. The precue either indicated the hand (right or left) or FI (index or middle) with which the response would be executed or was uninformative. TMS was delivered to the left or right cortical hand area at one of five possible times during the foreperiod: -1000, -500, -333, -166 or 0 ms prior to the response signal. Surface EMG activity from a prime mover involved in flexion of the response FIs (Flexor digitorum superficialis) was used to measure the magnitude of the motor evoked potential (MEP) elicited by TMS. Cortico-spinal excitability - as assessed by the magnitude of the MEP evoked in the target muscle contralateral to the stimulated hemisphere - progressively decreased during the foreperiod. The identity of the precued responses, however, had no effect on MEP magnitude. These results suggest that preparation to respond at a particular time inhibited excitability of the cortico-spinal tract, while advance preparation to perform speci®c responses aected more central structures only.

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