Brain excitability and long latency muscular arm responses: non-invasive evaluation in healthy and parkinsonian subjects

P. M. Rossini, C. Paradiso, F. Zarola, G. Bernardi, M. D. Caramia, L. Margari, E. Ferrari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Thirty healthy and 35 volunteers affected by Parkinson's disease (PD) were examined. Long latency responses (LLRs) and short latency somatosensory evoked potentials (SEPs) after median nerve stimulation were respectively recorded from forearm flexor muscles, and from 19 scalp electrodes, during relaxation (condition 1), light and maximal muscle contraction (conditions 2 and 3). Linear interpolation of SEPs was performed to produce isopotential colour maps. Latencies and amplitudes of the V1-V2 component in LLR, as well as of parietal, central and frontal scalp SEPs were analysed in the 3 experimental conditions. Highly significant inverse correlation matched the frontal SEP to the LLR V2 component amplitudes, both in healthy and in PD subjects. However, the V2 component - which in the former group was reliably identifiable only in condition 3 - was presented in conditions 1 and 2 in a high percentage of PD subjects who also showed an abnormally reduced frontal SEP during complete relaxation. Excitability changes of brain motor areas induced by a sensory input were tested as follows: the motor cortex was transcranially stimulated (TCS) by magnetic pulses with an intensity 10% below (A) or above (B) the threshold for twitch elicitation during complete relaxation of forearm muscles: TCS was randomly preceded (range 14-32 msec) by a shock to the median or ulnar nerve at the elbow with identical characteristics as for LLR elicitation. An initial epoch of 'inhibition' followed by a peak of 'facilitation' of the amplitude of motor responses to TCS was observed when conditioning stimuli to the median nerve preceded TCS by 14-20 and by 24-32 msec, respectively. Contrary to normals, conditioning stimulation of the median nerve did not significantly influence the excitability threshold to TCS in those parkinsonians with depressed frontal N30.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)454-465
Number of pages12
JournalElectroencephalography and Clinical Neurophysiology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1991


  • Brain stimulation
  • Long latency responses
  • Parkinson disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Clinical Neurology


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