Use of imperceptible wrist vibration to modulate sensorimotor cortical activity

  • Na Jin Seo
  • Kishor Lakshminarayanan
  • Abigail W. Lauer
  • Viswanathan Ramakrishnan
  • Brian D. Schmit
  • Colleen A. Hanlon
  • Mark S. George
  • Leonardo Bonilha
  • Ryan J. Downey
  • Will DeVries
  • Tibor Nagy
Research Article


Peripheral sensory stimulation has been used as a method to stimulate the sensorimotor cortex, with applications in neurorehabilitation. To improve delivery modality and usability, a new stimulation method has been developed in which imperceptible random-frequency vibration is applied to the wrist concurrently during hand activity. The objective of this study was to investigate effects of this new sensory stimulation on the sensorimotor cortex. Healthy adults were studied. In a transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) study, resting motor threshold, short-interval intracortical inhibition, and intracortical facilitation for the abductor pollicis brevis muscle were compared between vibration on vs. off, while subjects were at rest. In an electroencephalogram (EEG) study, alpha and beta power during rest and event-related desynchronization (ERD) for hand grip were compared between vibration on vs. off. Results showed that vibration decreased EEG power and decreased TMS short-interval intracortical inhibition (i.e., disinhibition) compared with no vibration at rest. Grip-related ERD was also greater during vibration, compared to no vibration. In conclusion, subthreshold random-frequency wrist vibration affected the release of intracortical inhibition and both resting and grip-related sensorimotor cortical activity. Such effects may have implications in rehabilitation.


Physical stimulation Subliminal stimulation Hand Brain mapping Sensorimotor cortex Cortical excitability 



This work was supported by the COBRE for Stroke Recovery through an Institutional Development Award (IDeA) from the NIH/NIGMS under Grant number P20GM109040, American Heart Association Grant, NIH/NHLBI R25HL092611, and NIH/NIGMS U54-GM104941.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

Seo is an inventor of a patent regarding the vibratory stimulation method studied in this manuscript. Other authors have no conflict of interest to report.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Na Jin Seo
    • 1
    • 2
  • Kishor Lakshminarayanan
    • 3
  • Abigail W. Lauer
    • 4
  • Viswanathan Ramakrishnan
    • 4
  • Brian D. Schmit
    • 5
  • Colleen A. Hanlon
    • 6
  • Mark S. George
    • 6
  • Leonardo Bonilha
    • 7
  • Ryan J. Downey
    • 1
  • Will DeVries
    • 6
  • Tibor Nagy
    • 8
  1. 1.Department of Health ProfessionsMedical University of South CarolinaCharlestonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Health Sciences and ResearchMedical University of South CarolinaCharlestonUSA
  3. 3.Department of Industrial and Manufacturing EngineeringUniversity of Wisconsin-MilwaukeeMilwaukeeUSA
  4. 4.Department of Public Health SciencesMedical University of South CarolinaCharlestonUSA
  5. 5.Department of Biomedical EngineeringMarquette UniversityMilwaukeeUSA
  6. 6.Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral SciencesMedical University of South CarolinaCharlestonUSA
  7. 7.Department of NeurologyMedical University of South CarolinaCharlestonUSA
  8. 8.Department of ChemistryAppalachian State UniversityBooneUSA

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