Motor-related cortical activity after cervical spinal cord injury: Multifaceted EEG analysis of isometric elbow flexion contractions

  • Cremoux Sylvain
  • Tallet Jessica
  • Berton Eric
  • Dal Maso Fabien
  • Amarantini David


Electroencephalographic (EEG) studies have well established that motor cortex (M1) activity similar to 20 Hz decreases during muscular contraction and increases as soon as contraction stops, which are known as event-related desynchronization (ERD) and event-related synchronization (ERS), respectively. ERD is supposed to reflect M1 activation, sending information to recruited muscles, while the process underlying ERS is interpreted either as active cortical inhibition or as processing of sensory inputs. Investigation of the process behind ERD/ERS in people with spinal cord injury (SCI) would be particularly relevant since their M1 remains effective despite decreased sensorimotor abilities. In this study, we recorded net joint torque and EEG in 6 participants with cervical SCI and 8 healthy participants who performed isometric elbow flexion at 3 force levels. Multifaceted EEG analysis was introduced to assess ERD/ERS according to their amplitude, frequency range and duration. The results revealed that net joint torque increased with the required force level for all participants and time to contraction inhibition was longer in the SCI group. At the cortical level, ERD/ERS frequency ranges increased with the required force level in all participants, indicating that the modulation of cortical activity with force level is preserved after SCI. However, ERS amplitude decreased only in SCI participants, which may be linked to delayed contraction inhibition. All in all, cortical modulation of frequency range and amplitude could reflect two different kinds of neural communication. (C) 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.