Characterization of spinal sensorimotor network using transcutaneous spinal stimulation during voluntary movement preparation and performance

Alexander G. Steele, Darryn A. Atkinson, Blesson Varghese, Jeonghoon Oh, Rachel L. Markley, Dimitry G. Sayenko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Transcutaneous electrical spinal stimulation (TSS) can be used to selectively activate motor pools based on their anatomical arrangements in the lumbosacral enlargement. These spatial patterns of spinal motor activation may have important clinical implications, especially when there is a need to target specific muscle groups. However, our understanding of the net effects and inter-play between the motor pools projecting to agonist and antagonist muscles during the preparation and performance of voluntary movements is still limited. The present study was designed to systematically investigate and differentiate the multi-segmental convergence of supraspinal inputs on the lumbosacral neural network before and during the execution of voluntary leg movements in neurologically intact participants. During the experiments, participants (N = 13) performed isometric (1) knee flexion and (2) extension, as well as (3) plantarflexion and (4) dorsiflexion. TSS consisting of a pair pulse with 50 ms interstimulus interval was delivered over the T12-L1 vertebrae during the muscle contractions, as well as within 50 to 250 ms following the auditory or tactile stimuli, to characterize the temporal profiles of net spinal motor output during movement preparation. Facilitation of evoked motor potentials in the ipsilateral agonists and contralateral antagonists emerged as early as 50 ms following the cue and increased prior to movement onset. These results suggest that the descending drive modulates the activity of the inter-neuronal circuitry within spinal sensorimotor networks in specific, functionally relevant spatiotemporal patterns, which has a direct implication for the characterization of the state of those networks in individuals with neurological conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number5958
JournalJournal of Clinical Medicine
Issue number24
StatePublished - Dec 1 2021


  • Corticospinal tract
  • Functional connectivity
  • Movement
  • Sensorimotor networks
  • Spinal cord
  • Spinal stimulation
  • Task dependence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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