Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 234, Issue 8, pp 2293–2304 | Cite as

Soleus Hoffmann reflex amplitudes are specifically modulated by cutaneous inputs from the arms and opposite leg during walking but not standing

  • Shinya SuzukiEmail author
  • Tsuyoshi Nakajima
  • Genki Futatsubashi
  • Rinaldo A. Mezzarane
  • Hiroyuki Ohtsuka
  • Yukari Ohki
  • E. Paul Zehr
  • Tomoyoshi Komiyama
Research Article


Electrical stimulation of cutaneous nerves innervating heteronymous limbs (the arms or contralateral leg) modifies the excitability of soleus Hoffmann (H-) reflexes. The differences in the sensitivities of the H-reflex pathway to cutaneous afferents from different limbs and their modulation during the performance of motor tasks (i.e., standing and walking) are not fully understood. In the present study, we investigated changes in soleus H-reflex amplitudes induced by electrical stimulation of peripheral nerves. Selected targets for conditioning stimulation included the superficial peroneal nerve, which innervates the foot dorsum in the contralateral ankle (cSP), and the superficial radial nerve, which innervates the dorsum of the hand in the ipsilateral (iSR) or contralateral wrist (cSR). Stimulation and subsequent reflex assessment took place during the standing and early-stance phase of treadmill walking in ten healthy subjects. Cutaneous stimulation produced long-latency inhibition (conditioning-test interval of ~100 ms) of the H-reflex during the early-stance phase of walking, and the inhibition was stronger following cSP stimulation compared with iSR or cSR stimulation. In contrast, although similar conditioning stimulation significantly facilitated the H-reflex during standing, this effect remained constant irrespective of the different conditioning sites. These findings suggest that cutaneous inputs from the arms and contralateral leg had reversible effects on the H-reflex amplitudes, including inhibitions with different sensitivities during the early-stance phase of walking and facilitation during standing. Furthermore, the differential sensitivities of the H-reflex modulations were expressed only during walking when the locations of the afferent inputs were functionally relevant.


Locomotion Interlimb coordination H-reflex Cutaneous afferents Presynaptic inhibition 



This study was partially supported by JSPS KAKENHI (25350701 for T.K.), the BEPE program (Proc. No. 2012/05304-5) from FAPESP (Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo) for R.A.M., and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada for EPZ.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

All authors declare that no conflict of interest exists.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shinya Suzuki
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Tsuyoshi Nakajima
    • 2
  • Genki Futatsubashi
    • 1
    • 3
  • Rinaldo A. Mezzarane
    • 4
    • 5
    • 6
  • Hiroyuki Ohtsuka
    • 7
  • Yukari Ohki
    • 2
  • E. Paul Zehr
    • 8
    • 9
    • 10
  • Tomoyoshi Komiyama
    • 1
    • 6
  1. 1.Division of Health and Sports Education, The United Graduate School of EducationTokyo Gakugei UniversityTokyoJapan
  2. 2.Department of Integrative PhysiologyKyorin University School of MedicineMitakaJapan
  3. 3.Faculty of Business and Information SciencesJobu UniversityIsesakiJapan
  4. 4.Laboratory of Signal Processing and Motor Control, College of Physical EducationUniversity of BrasíliaBrasíliaBrazil
  5. 5.Biomedical Engineering Laboratory, EPUSP, PTCUniversity of São PauloSão PauloBrazil
  6. 6.Division of Health and Sports Sciences, Faculty of EducationChiba UniversityChibaJapan
  7. 7.Department of Physical Therapy, School of Rehabilitation SciencesHealth Sciences University of HokkaidoHokkaidoJapan
  8. 8.Rehabilitation Neuroscience LaboratoryUniversity of VictoriaVictoriaCanada
  9. 9.Centre for Biomedical ResearchUniversity of VictoriaVictoriaCanada
  10. 10.International Collaboration on Repair Discoveries (ICORD)VancouverCanada

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