Corticospinal Excitability of Trunk Muscles during Different Postural Tasks

Shin-Yi Chiou, Sam E A Gottardi, Paul W Hodges, Paul H Strutton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)
148 Downloads (Pure)


Evidence suggests that the primary motor cortex (M1) is involved in both voluntary, goal-directed movements and in postural control. Trunk muscles are involved in both tasks, however, the extent to which M1 controls these muscles in trunk flexion/extension (voluntary movement) and in rapid shoulder flexion (postural control) remains unclear. The purpose of this study was to investigate this question by examining excitability of corticospinal inputs to trunk muscles during voluntary and postural tasks. Twenty healthy adults participated. Transcranial magnetic stimulation was delivered to the M1 to examine motor evoked potentials (MEPs) in the trunk muscles (erector spinae (ES) and rectus abdominis (RA)) during dynamic shoulder flexion (DSF), static shoulder flexion (SSF), and static trunk extension (STE). The level of background muscle activity in the ES muscles was matched across tasks. MEP amplitudes in ES were significantly larger in DSF than in SSF or in STE; however, this was not observed for RA. Further, there were no differences in levels of muscle activity in RA between tasks. Our findings reveal that corticospinal excitability of the ES muscles appears greater during dynamic anticipatory posture-related adjustments than during static tasks requiring postural (SSF) and goal-directed voluntary (STE) activity. These results suggest that task-oriented rehabilitation of trunk muscles should be considered for optimal transfer of therapeutic effect to function.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0147650
Number of pages13
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jan 2016


  • Adult
  • Evoked Potentials, Motor
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motor Cortex
  • Movement
  • Muscle Contraction
  • Muscle, Skeletal
  • Posture
  • Pyramidal Tracts
  • Torso
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation
  • Young Adult
  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Electromyography
  • Shoulders
  • Musculoskeletal system
  • Postural control
  • Abdominal muscles


Dive into the research topics of 'Corticospinal Excitability of Trunk Muscles during Different Postural Tasks'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this