The influence of unilateral contraction of hand muscles on the contralateral corticomuscular coherence during bimanual motor tasks

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Abstract

The mechanisms behind how muscle contractions in one hand influence corticomuscular coherence in the opposite hand are still undetermined. Twenty-two subjects were recruited to finish bimanual and unimanual motor tasks. In the unimanual tasks, subjects performed precision grip using their right hand with visual feedback of exerted forces. The bimanual tasks involved simultaneous finger abduction of their left hand with visual feedback and precision grip of their right hand. They were divided into four conditions according to the two contraction levels of the left-hand muscles and whether visual feedback existed for the right hand. Measures of coherence and power spectrum were calculated from EEG and EMG data and statistically analyzed to identify changes in corticomuscular coupling and oscillatory activity. Results showed that compared with the unimanual task, a significant increase in the mean corticomuscular coherence of the right hand was found when left-hand muscles contracted at 5% of the maximal isometric voluntary contraction (MVC). No significant changes were found when the contraction level was 50% of the MVC. Furthermore, both the increase of muscle contraction levels and the elimination of visual feedback for right hand can significantly decrease the corticomuscular coupling in right hand during bimanual tasks. In summary, the involvement of moderate left-hand muscle contractions resulted in an increase tendency of corticomuscular coherence in right hand while strong left-hand muscle contractions eliminated it. We speculated that the perturbation of activities in one corticospinal tract resulted from the movement of the opposite hand can enhance the corticomuscular coupling when attention distraction is limited.

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