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Using voluntary motor commands to inhibit involuntary arm movements


Ghosh, A; Rothwell, P; Haggard, P (2014). Using voluntary motor commands to inhibit involuntary arm movements. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Series B: Biological Sciences, 281:20141139.

Abstract

A hallmark of voluntary motor control is the ability to stop an ongoing movement. Is voluntary motor inhibition a general neural mechanism that can be focused on any movement, including involuntary movements, or is it mere termination of a positive voluntary motor command? The involuntary arm lift, or ‘floating arm trick’, is a distinctive long-lasting reflex of the deltoid muscle. We investigated how a voluntary motor network inhibits this form of involuntary motor control. Transcranial magnetic stimulation of the motor cortex during the floating arm trick produced a silent period in the reflexively contracting deltoid muscle, followed by a rebound of muscle activity. This pattern suggests a persistent generator of involuntary motor commands. Instructions to bring the arm down voluntarily reduced activity of deltoid muscle. When this voluntary effort was withdrawn, the involuntary arm lift resumed. Further, voluntary motor inhibition produced a strange illusion of physical resistance to bringing the arm down, as if ongoing involuntarily generated commands were located in a ‘sensory blind-spot’, inaccessible to conscious perception. Our results suggest that voluntary motor inhibition may be a specific neural function, distinct from absence of positive voluntary motor commands.

A hallmark of voluntary motor control is the ability to stop an ongoing movement. Is voluntary motor inhibition a general neural mechanism that can be focused on any movement, including involuntary movements, or is it mere termination of a positive voluntary motor command? The involuntary arm lift, or ‘floating arm trick’, is a distinctive long-lasting reflex of the deltoid muscle. We investigated how a voluntary motor network inhibits this form of involuntary motor control. Transcranial magnetic stimulation of the motor cortex during the floating arm trick produced a silent period in the reflexively contracting deltoid muscle, followed by a rebound of muscle activity. This pattern suggests a persistent generator of involuntary motor commands. Instructions to bring the arm down voluntarily reduced activity of deltoid muscle. When this voluntary effort was withdrawn, the involuntary arm lift resumed. Further, voluntary motor inhibition produced a strange illusion of physical resistance to bringing the arm down, as if ongoing involuntarily generated commands were located in a ‘sensory blind-spot’, inaccessible to conscious perception. Our results suggest that voluntary motor inhibition may be a specific neural function, distinct from absence of positive voluntary motor commands.

Citations

6 citations in Web of Science®
6 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Neuroinformatics
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
Language:English
Date:2014
Deposited On:25 Feb 2015 08:36
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 19:00
Publisher:Royal Society Publishing
ISSN:0962-8452
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2014.1139
PubMed ID:25253453

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