Amplification of interlimb reflexes evoked by stimulating the hand simultaneously with conditioning from the foot during locomotion




Nakajima, Tsuyoshi
Barss, Trevor
Klarner, Taryn
Komiyama, Tomoyoshi
Zehr, E. Paul

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BioMed Central


Background Widespread interlimb reflexes evoked in leg muscles by cutaneous stimulation of the hand are phase-modulated and behaviorally relevant to produce functional changes in ankle trajectory during walking. These reflexes are complementary to the segmental responses evoked by stimulation at the ankle. Despite differences in the expression of reflex amplitude based upon site of nerve stimulation, there are some common features as well, suggesting the possibility of shared interneuronal pathways. Currently little is known about integration or shared reflex systems from interlimb cutaneous networks during human locomotion. Here we investigated convergent reflex effects following cutaneous stimulation of the hand and foot during arm and leg cycling (AL) by using spatial facilitation. Participants performed AL cycling and static activation of the target muscle knee extensor vastus lateralis (VL) in 3 different randomly ordered nerve stimulation conditions: 1) superficial radial nerve (SR; input from hand); 2) superficial peroneal nerve (SP; input from foot); and, 3) combined stimulation (SR + SP). Stimuli were applied around the onset of rhythmic EMG bursts in VL corresponding to the onset of the power or leg extension phase. Results During AL cycling, small inhibitory (~80 ms) and large facilitatory reflexes (~100 ~ 150 ms) were seen in VL. The amplitudes of the facilitatory responses with SR + SP stimulation were significantly larger than those for SP or SR stimulation alone. The facilitation was also significantly larger than the simple mathematical summation of amplitudes from SP and SR trials. This indicates extra facilitation beyond what would be accounted for by serial neuronal processing and was not observed during static activation. Conclusions We conclude that AL cycling activates shared interneurons in convergent reflex pathways from cutaneous inputs innervating the hand and leg. This enhanced activity has functional implications for corrective responses during locomotion and for translation to rehabilitation after neurotrauma.


BioMed Central


Reflex, Interlimb, Propriospinal, Central pattern generator, Afferent feedback, Rehabilitation, Walking, Cycling, Arm swing


Nakajima, T., Barss, T., Klarner, T., Komiyama, T., & Zehr, E. P. (2013). Amplification of interlimb reflexes evoked by stimulating the hand simultaneously with conditioning from the foot during locomotion. BMC Neuroscience, 14(1), 28.