Are autonomic signals influencing cortico-spinal motor excitability? A study with transcranial magnetic stimulation

Maria Maddalena Filippi, Massimiliano Oliveri, Fabrizio Vernieri, Patrizio Pasqualetti, Paolo Maria Rossini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In order to investigate the role of visceral afferent inputs flowing along autonomic fibers on corticospinal tract excitability, the variability of Motor Evoked Potentials (MEPs), elicited by Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS), was analysed during simultaneous monitoring of electrocardiogram (EKG) phases, breathing phases and sudomotor skin responses (SSRs) in a group of 10 healthy subjects. A cascade of at least 60 consecutive magnetic stimuli, with an interstimulus interval randomly varying between 20 and 40 s, was acquired. At the end of the recording session, the subject was asked to make at random five not consecutive self-paced forced inspirations. TMS was carried out at an intensity 10% above motor threshold excitability via a circular coil placed over the motor area of the right hemisphere. MEPs were recorded from the contralateral abductor digiti minimi muscle (ADM). Sudomotor Skin Responses (SSRs) were recorded on both hand palms. MEPs latency and amplitude did not show significant correlation with any of the EKG and respiratory phases. During forced inspiration, a significant latency shortening was found. TMS elicited SSRs, whose amplitudes were not correlated with MEP parameters. During forced inspiration a significant SSR amplitude increment, not correlated with MEP latency shortening, was also observed. These results assign a minor if any role to the considered autonomic parameters in modulating corticospinal motor excitability. Copyright (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)159-164
Number of pages6
JournalBrain Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Oct 27 2000


  • Autonomic system
  • Cortical excitability
  • MEP
  • Skin test
  • TMS

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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