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Publication Detail
Multimodal Stimuli Modulate Rapid Visual Responses during Reaching.
The reticulospinal tract plays an important role in primate upper limb function, but methods for assessing its activity are limited. One promising approach is to measure rapid visual responses (RVRs) in arm muscle activity during a visually-cued reaching task; these may arise from a tecto-reticulospinal pathway. We investigated whether changes in reticulospinal excitability can be assessed non-invasively using RVRs, by pairing the visual stimuli of the reaching task with electrical stimulation of the median nerve, galvanic vestibular stimulation or loud sounds, all of which are known to activate the reticular formation. Surface electromyogram recordings were made from the right deltoid of healthy human subjects as they performed fast reaching movements towards visual targets. Stimuli were delivered up to 200ms before target appearance and RVR was quantified as the EMG amplitude in a window 75-125ms after visual target onset. Median nerve, vestibular and auditory stimuli all consistently facilitated the RVRs, as well as reducing the latency of responses. We propose that this facilitation reflects modulation of tecto-reticulospinal excitability, which is consistent with the idea that the amplitude of RVRs can be used to assess changes in brainstem excitability non-invasively in humans.
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