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Keywords:

  • facilitation;
  • human;
  • inhibition;
  • motor cortex;
  • transcranial magnetic stimulation

Abstract

Surround inhibition is a neural mechanism that assists in the focusing of excitatory drive to muscles responsible for a given movement (agonist muscles) by suppressing unwanted activity in muscles not relevant to the movement (surround muscles). The purpose of the study was to determine the contribution of γ-aminobutyric acidB receptor-mediated intracortical inhibition, as assessed by the cortical silent period (CSP), to the generation of surround inhibition in the motor system. Eight healthy adults (five women and three men, 29.8 ± 9 years) performed isometric contractions with the abductor digiti minimi (ADM) muscle in separate conditions with and without an index finger flexion movement. The ADM motor evoked potential amplitude and CSP duration elicited by transcranial magnetic stimulation were compared between a control condition in which the ADM was activated independently and during conditions involving three phases (pre-motor, phasic, and tonic) of the index finger flexion movement. The motor evoked potential amplitude of the ADM was greater during the control condition compared with the phasic condition. Thus, the presence of surround inhibition was confirmed in the present study. Most critically, the CSP duration of the ADM decreased during the phasic stage of finger flexion compared with the control condition, which indicated a reduction of this type of intracortical inhibition during the phasic condition. These findings indicate that γ-aminobutyric acidB receptor-mediated intracortical inhibition, as measured by the duration of the CSP, does not contribute to the generation of surround inhibition in hand muscles.