Rhythmic arm cycling produces a non-specific signal that suppresses Soleus H-reflex amplitude in stationary legs
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- Loadman, P.M. & Zehr, E.P. Exp Brain Res (2007) 179: 199. doi:10.1007/s00221-006-0782-2
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Rhythmic arm cycling significantly suppresses Hoffmann (H-) reflex amplitude in Soleus muscles of stationary legs. The specific parameters of arm cycling contributing to this suppression, however, are unknown. Between the arms or legs, movement results in suppression of the H-reflex that is specifically related to the phase of movement and the locus of limb movement. We speculated that the effects of arm movement features on H-reflexes in the leg would be similar and hypothesized that the Soleus H-reflex suppression evoked by arm movement would therefore be specifically related to: (1) phase of the movement; (2) the locus of the movement (i.e., ipsilateral or contralateral arm); (3) range of arm motion; and (4) frequency of arm cycling. Participants performed bilateral arm cycling at 1 and 2 Hz with short and long-crank lengths. Ipsilateral and contralateral arm cycling was also performed at 1 Hz with a long-crank length. Soleus H-reflexes were evoked at four equidistant phases and comparisons were made while maintaining similar evoked motor waves and Soleus activation. Our results show that comparable suppressive effects were seen at all phases of the arm movement: there was no phase-dependence. Further, bilateral or unilateral (whether ipsi- or contralateral arm) cycling yielded equivalent suppression of the H-reflex amplitude. Cycling at 2 Hz resulted in a significantly larger suppression than with 1 Hz cycling. We conclude that a general, rather than a specific, signal related to the command to produce rhythmic arm muscle activity mediates the suppression of Soleus H-reflex during arm cycling.