Selective activation of ipsilateral motor pathways in intact humans

Toshiki Tazoe, Monica A Perez*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


It has been proposed that ipsilateral motor pathways play a role in the control of ipsilateral movements and recovery of function after injury. However, the extent to which ipsilateral motor pathways are engaged in voluntary activity in intact humans remains largely unknown. Using transcranial magnetic stimulation over the arm representation of the primary motor cortex, we examined ipsilateral motor-evoked potentials (iMEPs)ina proximal arm muscle during increasing levelsofunilateral and bilateral isometric forceinasitting position. We demonstrate that iMEP area and amplitude decreased during bilateral contraction of homonymous (elbow flexor) muscles and increased during bilateralcontractionofheteronymous (elbow flexorandextensor)muscles compared withaunilateralcontraction, regardless of the level of force tested. To further understand the neuronal inputs involved in the bilateral effects, we examined the contribution from neck afferents projecting onto ipsilateral motor pathways. Medial (away from the muscle tested) and lateral (toward the muscle tested) rotation of the head enhanced bilateral iMEP effects from homonymous and heteronymous muscles, respectively. In contrast, head flexion and extension exerted nonspecific bilateral effects on iMEPs. Intracortical inhibition, in the motor cortex where iMEPs originated, showed modulation compatible with the changes in iMEPs. We conclude that ipsilateral projections to proximal arm muscles can be selectively modulated by voluntary contraction of contralateral arm muscles, likely involving circuits mediating asymmetric tonic neck reflexes acting, at least in part, at the cortical level. The pattern of bilateral actions may represent a strategy to engage ipsilateral motor pathways in a motor behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13924-13934
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number42
StatePublished - Oct 15 2014


  • Ipsilateral pathways
  • Motor recovery
  • Primary motor cortex
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Transcallosal pathways
  • Voluntary movement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Selective activation of ipsilateral motor pathways in intact humans'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this