Peripheral electrical stimulation increases corticomotor excitability and enhances the rate of visuomotor adaptation
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Peripheral electrical stimulation (PES) modulates corticomotor excitability but its effect on motor performance has not been thoroughly investigated. The purpose of this study was to assess whether increases and/or decreases in corticomotor excitability, induced by PES, influenced motor performance using a visuomotor adaptation task. Three PES interventions (motor stimulation, sensory stimulation or sham) were delivered to the first dorsal interosseous (FDI) in 30 healthy participants matched for age, gender and handedness. Motor stimulation was applied to increase corticomotor excitability, sensory stimulation to decrease corticomotor excitability, while sham stimulation acted as a control. Corticomotor excitability was assessed using the amplitude of motor evoked potentials to transcranial magnetic stimulation recorded from FDI before and after each intervention. Following PES, participants completed a visuomotor adaptation task. This required participants to move a cursor accurately towards virtual targets with index finger movements when the cursor trajectory was rotated 30 ° counter clockwise. Performance was assessed as angular error (a measure of movement accuracy) and reaction time. The rate of visuomotor adaptation was greater following motor PES compared to sham, but not sensory, with no difference observed between sensory and sham. However, visuomotor adaptation performance overall (the total change in performance from beginning to end) was similar across intervention groups. These findings suggest that motor PES applied prior to task acquisition can facilitate the speed of adaptation.
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