Brain Topography

, Volume 31, Issue 5, pp 795–810 | Cite as

Spatial and Temporal Characteristics of Set-Related Inhibitory and Excitatory Inputs from the Dorsal Premotor Cortex to the Ipsilateral Motor Cortex Assessed by Dual-Coil Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation

  • Sara Parmigiani
  • Benedetta Zattera
  • Guido Barchiesi
  • Luigi CattaneoEmail author
Original Paper


The capacity to produce movements only at appropriate times is fundamental in successful behavior and requires a fine interplay between motor inhibition and facilitation. Evidence in humans indicates that the dorsal premotor cortex (PMCd) is involved in such preparatory and inhibitory processes, but how PMCd modulates motor output in humans is still unclear. We investigated this issue in healthy human volunteers, using a variant of the dual-coil transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) technique that allows testing the short-latency effects of conditioning TMS to the left PMCd on test TMS applied to the ipsilateral orofacial primary motor cortex (M1). Participants performed a delayed cued simple reaction time task. They were asked to produce a lip movement cued by an imperative GO-signal presented after a predictable SET-period, during which TMS was applied at different intervals. Results showed that the area of motor evoked potentials (MEPs) to test TMS was modulated by conditioning TMS. A transient inhibition cortico-bulbar excitability by PMCd stimulation was observed around the middle of the SET-period. Conversely, a ramping excitatory effect of PMCd stimulation appeared towards the end of the SET-period, as the time of the predicted GO-signal approached. The time-course of PMCd–M1 activity scaled to the varying SET-period duration. Our data indicate that inhibition and excitation of motor output during a delayed reaction time task are two distinct neural phenomena. They both originate in PMCd and are conveyed via cortico–cortical connections to the ipsilateral M1, where they are integrated to produce harmonic fluctuations of motor output.


Cortico–cortical connectivity Inhibition Premotor Action preparation Voluntary movement 


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of TrentoTrentoItaly
  2. 2.University of SalzburgSalzburgAustria
  3. 3.Dipartimento di Neuroscienze, Biomedicina e MovimentoUniversity of VeronaVeronaItaly

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