Corticospinal and transcallosal modulation of unilateral and bilateral contractions of lower limbs

Jakob Škarabot, Ruben Alfonso, Neil Cronin, Jure Bon, Vojko Strojnik, Janne Avela

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Interhemispheric inhibition may play a role in the expression of bilateral deficit in force (BLD). This study investigated whether the degree of BLD is reflected in the nature of interhemispheric interaction during unilateral and bilateral contractions.

Subjects divided into three groups, ‘bilateral’ (n = 7), ‘unilateral’ (n = 5) and ‘control’ (n = 8), performed unilateral and bilateral maximal voluntary isometric knee extensions while receiving electrical stimulation, and transcranial magnetic stimulation of the target and ipsilateral muscles. Main variables of interest included peak force for subsequent calculation of bilateral index, voluntary activation level (VAL), motor evoked potential amplitudes (MEPs) and silent period durations (SPs).

BLD was noted only for the whole sample (p = 0.009), but not for any of the groups. VAL was significantly higher during bilateral compared to unilateral contractions (~97 vs. 92 %, p = 0.023), with no differences between groups. MEPs of target and ipsilateral muscles were significantly bigger during bilateral contractions (p = 0.042 and p = 0.022, respectively), with no differences between groups. No differences in SPs were observed.

Higher values of MEPs and VAL during bilateral contractions, in conjunction with unaltered SPs, do not support the concept of inhibition related to BLD, but rather suggest the possibility of cortical facilitation. Based on the existing literature, this behavior may be specific to the lower limb musculature, but the possibility of sub-cortical or higher-order neural alterations cannot be excluded.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2197-2214
JournalEuropean Journal of Applied Physiology
Issue number11-12
Early online date14 Sept 2016
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2016


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