Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 89, Issue 3, pp 649–654

Corticospinal projections to lower limb motoneurons in man

  • B. Brouwer
  • P. Ashby


The projections of cortical neurons activated by transcranial magnetic stimulation to single lower limb spinal motoneurons were examined in 34 normal subjects. Peristimulus time histograms of the discharge times of single, voluntarily activated motor units were used to derive information about postsynaptic potentials in single spinal motoneurons produced by magnetic stimuli applied over the contralateral scalp. All tibialis anterior motor units and the majority of motoneurons innervating the small muscles of the foot showed strong short latency facilitation. About half of the motoneurons of proximal lower limb muscles showed this facilitation. Short latency facilitation of the motoneurons of soleus and medial gastrocnemius was only rarely observed and when present was weak. The short latency facilitation is attributed to the projections of the fast corticospinal pathway with monosynaptic projections to motoneurons. The relative strength of the facilitation in different motoneuron pools is considered to reflect the density of corticospinal projections to that motoneuron pool. The observed pattern of projections in man shows some differences from the pattern of projections in subhuman primates that might reflect the different use of the limb.

Key words

Magnetic stimulation Spinal motoneurons Motor cortex Corticospinal Motor unit Human 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • B. Brouwer
    • 1
  • P. Ashby
    • 2
  1. 1.School of Rehabilitation Therapy, Louise D. Acton Building, Queen's UniversityKingstonCanada
  2. 2.Division of NeurologyToronto Western HospitalTorontoCanada

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