Startle stimuli exert opposite effects on human cortical and spinal motor system excitability in leg muscles

T V Ilic, M Pötter-Nerger, I Holler, H R Siebner, N V Ilic, G Deuschl, J Volkmann

18 Citationer (Scopus)


Increased excitability of the spinal motor system has been observed after loud and unexpected acoustic stimuli (AS) preceding H-reflexes. The paradigm has been proposed as an electrophysiological marker of reticulospinal tract activity in humans. The brainstem reticular formation also maintains dense anatomical interconnections with the cortical motor system. When a startling AS is delivered, prior to transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), the AS produces a suppression of motor evoked potential (MEP) amplitude in hand and arm muscles of healthy subjects. Here we analyzed the conditioning effect of a startling AS on MEP amplitude evoked by TMS to the primary motor leg area. Ten healthy volunteers participated in two experiments that used a conditioning-test paradigm. In the first experiment, a startling AS preceded a suprathreshold transcranial test stimulus. The interstimulus interval (ISI) varied between 20 to 160 ms. When given alone, the test stimulus evoked a MEP amplitude of approximately 0.5 mV in the slightly preinervated soleus muscle (SOL). In the second experiment, the startling AS was used to condition the size of the H-reflex in SOL muscle. Mean MEP amplitude was calculated for each ISI. The conditioning AS suppressed MEP amplitude at ISIs of 30-80 ms. By contrast, H-reflex amplitude was augmented at ISIs of 100-200 ms. In conclusions, acoustic stimulation exerts opposite and ISI-specific effects on the amplitude of MEPs and H-reflex in the SOL muscle, indicating different mechanism of auditory-to-motor interactions at cortical and spinal level of motor system.
TidsskriftPhysiological research / Academia Scientiarum Bohemoslovaca
Vol/bind60 Suppl 1
Sider (fra-til)S101-6
Antal sider5
StatusUdgivet - 2011


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