Corticospinal excitability of tibialis anterior and soleus differs during passive ankle movement

Jakob Škarabot, Paul Ansdell, Callum Brownstein, Kirsty Hicks, Glyn Howatson, Stuart Goodall, Rade Durbaba

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11 Citations (Scopus)
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The purpose of this study was to assess corticospinal excitability of soleus (SOL) and tibialis anterior (TA) at a segmental level during passive ankle movement. Four experimental components were performed to assess the effects of passive ankle movement and muscle length on corticospinal excitability (MEP/Mmax) at different muscle lengths, subcortical excitability at the level of lumbar spinal segments (LEP/Mmax), intracortical inhibition (SICI) and facilitation (ICF), and H-reflex in SOL and TA. Additionally, the degree of fascicle length changes between SOL and TA was assessed in a subpopulation during passive ankle movement. Fascicles shortened and lengthened with joint movement during passive shortening and lengthening of SOL and TA to a similar degree (p<0.001). Resting motor threshold was greater in SOL compared to TA (p≤0.014). MEP/Mmax was facilitated in TA during passive shortening relative to the static position (p≤0.023) and passive lengthening (p≤0.001), but remained similar during passive ankle movement in SOL (p≥0.497), regardless of muscle length at the point of stimulus (p=0.922). LEP/Mmax (SOL: p=0.075, TA: p=0.071), SICI (SOL: p=0.427, TA: p=0.540) and ICF (SOL: p=0.177, TA: p=0.777) remained similar during passive ankle movement. H-reflex was not different across conditions in TA (p=0.258), but was reduced during passive lengthening compared to shortening in SOL (p=0.048). These results suggest a differential modulation of corticospinal excitability between plantar and dorsiflexors during passive movement. The corticospinal behaviour observed might be mediated by an increase in corticospinal drive as a result of reduced afferent input during muscle shortening and appears to be flexor-biased.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2239-2254
Number of pages16
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number9
Early online date26 Jun 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2019


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