Cortical excitability changes following grasping exercise augmented with electrical stimulation

Gergely I Barsi, Dejan B Popovic, Ina M Tarkka, Thomas Sinkjaer, Michael J Grey

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112 Citations (Scopus)


Rehabilitation with augmented electrical stimulation can enhance functional recovery after stroke, and cortical plasticity may play a role in this process. The purpose of this study was to compare the effects of three training paradigms on cortical excitability in healthy subjects. Cortical excitability was evaluated by analysing the input-output relationship between transcranial magnetic stimulation intensity and motor evoked potentials (MEPs) from the flexor muscles of the fingers. The study was performed with 25 healthy volunteers who underwent 20-min simulated therapy sessions of: (1) functional electrical stimulation (FES) of the finger flexors and extensors, (2) voluntary movement (VOL) with sensory stimulation, and (3) therapeutic FES (TFES) where the electrical stimulation augmented voluntary activation. TFES training produced a significant increase in MEP magnitude throughout the stimulation range, suggesting an increase in cortical excitability. In contrast, neither the FES nor voluntary movement alone had such an effect. These results suggest that the combination of voluntary effort and FES has greater potential to induce plasticity in the motor cortex and that TFES might be a more effective approach in rehabilitation after stroke than FES or repetitive voluntary training alone.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-66
Number of pages10
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number57
Early online date29 Jul 2008
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2008


  • Adult
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Electromyography
  • Evoked Potentials, Motor
  • Exercise
  • Female
  • Fingers
  • Hand Strength
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Models, Neurological
  • Motor Cortex
  • Movement
  • Neuronal Plasticity
  • Stroke Rehabilitation
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation
  • Volition
  • Young Adult
  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

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