Corticomotor excitability of wrist flexor and extensor muscles during active and passive movement

Document Type

Journal Article




Computing, Health and Science


Exercise, Biomedical & Health Science/Centre for Exercise and Sports Science Research




This article was originally published as: Chye, L., Nosaka, K. , Murray, L. M., Edwards, D., & Thickbroom, G. (2010). Corticomotor excitability of wrist flexor and extensor muscles during active and passive movement. Human Movement Science, 29(4), 494-501. NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Human Movement Science. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Human Movement Science, 29,4, (2010) DOI#” .


The excitability of the corticospinal projection to upper and lower limbs is constantly modulated during voluntary and passive movement; however a direct comparison during a comparable movement has not been reported. In the present study we used transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to compare corticomotor excitability to the extensor and flexor carpi radialis (ECR/FCR) muscles of the forearm during voluntary rhythmic wrist movement (through 45 of range), during a matched (for range and rhythm) passive movement of the wrist, and while the wrist was stationary (in mid-range). TMS was delivered when the wrist was in the neutral position. With passive and active movement, and for both FCR and ECR, corticomotor excitability was reduced during lengthening relative to shortening phases of movement. With active movement, this pattern was maintained and superimposed on an overall increase in excitability to both muscles that was greater for the ECR. The results favor a common pattern of excitability changes shared by extensor and flexor muscles as they undergo lengthening and shortening, which may be mediated by afferent input during both passive and active movement. This is combined with an overall increase in excitability associated with active movement that is greater for extensor muscles perhaps due to differences in the strength of the corticomotor projection to these muscles.



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