Increased Inhibition in Non-Primary Motor Areas of String-Instrument Players: A Preliminary Study with Paired-Pulse Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation
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CitationVaalto Selja. Julkunen Petro. Säisänen Laura. Könönen Mervi. Määttä Sara. Karhu Jari. (2016). Increased Inhibition in Non-Primary Motor Areas of String-Instrument Players: A Preliminary Study with Paired-Pulse Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation. Brain Plasticity, 1 (2) , 223-234. 10.3233/BPL-150015.
Background: The muscle representations in non-primary motor area (NPMA) are located in the dorsal premotor area (PMd) and in the border region between the premotor area and the supplementary motor area (SMA).
Objective: We characterized the plasticity of intracortical inhibitory and excitatory circuits in muscle representations in primary motor cortex (M1) and in NPMA related to acquired fine motor skills. We compared local cortical inhibition and facilitation balance in M1 and in NPMA between control subjects (n = 6) and right-handed string-instrument players (n = 5).
Methods: Navigated transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) was used to compare motor thresholds (MTs), motor evoked potentials (MEPs), short-interval intracortical inhibition (SICI) and intracortical facilitation (ICF) in non-dominant hand muscle representations in M1 and NPMA.
Results: String-instrument players showed reduced SICI in M1 in the actively used left hand abductor digiti minimi (ADM) muscle representation at 3 ms inter-stimulus interval (ISI) with a conditioning stimulus (CS) intensity of 80% of MT and increased SICI in NPMA in ADM representation at 2 ms ISI and CS intensity of 50% of MT in comparison with controls. No differences between string-instrument players and controls were found for the SICI in the left hand opponens pollicis (OP) muscle representation, which is a muscle not intensively trained in string-instrument players.
Conclusions: These preliminary results indicate that the stronger inhibition in motor representations outside M1 in string-instrument players may be crucial when accurate movements of single muscles must be performed. In contrast, weaker inhibition in M1 in string-instrument players may benefit the performance of fast finger movements.