Selective sensorimotor modulation operates during cognitive representation of movement

Gaia Bonassi, Ambra Bisio, Giovanna Lagravinese, Piero Ruggeri, Marco Bove, Laura Avanzino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Before movement onset, during the reaction time, excitability of M1 is selectively modulated by somatosensory inputs, only in the movement-related muscle. If a similar mechanism operates before the onset of mental movements, then somatosensory afferent inputs are exploited during cognitive representation of movement. We assessed sensorimotor modulation through short latency afferent inhibition (SAI)paradigm before the onset of executed and imagined movements. Participants performed or imagined an abduction of index or little finger, in response to an acoustic signal. SAI was evaluated between a Warning and a Go signal and 100 ms after the Go signal, before the real or expected EMG activity. Results showed a reduction of SAI after the Go signal, in the movement-related muscle, during motor imagery as well as movement execution. There was a positive correlation between the individual degree of sensorimotor modulation during executed and mental movements and between the sensorimotor modulation during mental movements and motor imagery ability. Sensorimotor modulation operates during the cognitive representation of movement with selective disinhibition of the cortical representation of the muscle involved in the task. Sensorimotor modulation mechanisms prior to mental and executed movements likely share overlapping circuits.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16-25
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - Jun 15 2019


  • motor imagery
  • primary motor cortex
  • sensorimotor modulation
  • short afferent inhibition
  • transcranial magnetic stimulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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