Content » Vol 33, Issue 5

Modulation of corticospinal excitability during imagined knee movements

François Tremblay, Louis E. Tremblay, Daniel E. Colcer
DOI: 10.1080/165019701750419635


In this study, we investigated corticospinal excitability during mental simulation of a leg extension movement with the technique of transcranial magnetic stimulation. Motor evoked potentials were recorded in both knee extensors (quadriceps) and flexors (biceps femoris) in 19 trained participants (healthy volunteers). The amplitude and latency of motor evoked potentials were compared in three conditions: (1) at rest, (2) during motor imagery, and (3) at rest, immediately after motor imagery. The results showed a significant effect (p < 0.001) of conditions on motor evoked potentials amplitude in the quadriceps but not in the biceps femoris. During motor imagery, the size of motor evoked potentials in the quadriceps increased significantly (p < 0.001) compared with rest and post-imagery conditions. Changes in motor evoked potentials latency across conditions were not significant, however. These results are consistent with previous studies in the upper limb and suggest that corticospinal excitability can be enhanced during motor imagery to facilitate responses in specific lower limb muscles.

Lay Abstract


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