Plasticity induced in the human spinal cord by focal muscle vibration

Lorenzo Rocchi, Antonio Suppa, Giorgio Leodori, Claudia Celletti, Filippo Camerota, John Rothwell, Alfredo Berardelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The spinal cord spinal cord has in the past been considered a hardwired system which responds to inputs in a stereotyped way. A growing body of data have instead demonstrated its ability to retain information and modify its effector capabilities, showing activity-dependent plasticity. Whereas, plasticity in the spinal cord is well documented after different forms of physical exercise, whether exogenous stimulation can induce similar changes is still a matter of debate. This issue is both of scientific and clinical relevance, since at least one form of stimulation, i.e., focal muscle vibration (fMV), is currently used as a treatment for spasticity. The aim of the present study was to assess whether fMV can induce plasticity at the SC level when applied to different muscles of the upper limb. Changes in different electrophysiological measures, such as H-reflex testing homonymous and heteronymous pathways, reciprocal inhibition and somatosensory evoked potentials were used as outcomes. We found that fMV was able to induce long-term depression-like plasticity in specific spinal cord circuits depending on the muscle vibrated. These findings helped understand the basic mechanisms underlying the effects of fMV and might help to develop more advanced stimulation protocols.

Original languageEnglish
Article number935
JournalFrontiers in Neurology
Issue numberNOV
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2 2018


  • H-reflex
  • Muscle vibration
  • Plasticity
  • Reciprocal inhibition
  • Somatosensory evoked potentials
  • Spinal cord

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Plasticity induced in the human spinal cord by focal muscle vibration'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this