May 18, 2021

Premovement inhibition protects motor actions from interference

<p>Shortly before movement initiation, the corticospinal system undergoes a transient suppression. This phenomenon has been observed across a range of motor tasks, suggesting that it may be a obligatory component of movement preparation. We probed whether this was also the case when the urgency to perform a motor action was high, in a situation where little time was available to engage in preparatory processes. We controlled the urgency of an impending motor action by increasing or decreasing the foreperiod duration in an anticipatory timing task. Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS; experiment one) or a loud acoustic stimulus (LAS; experiment two) were used to examine how corticospinal and subcortical excitability were modulated during motor preparation. Preparatory inhibition of the corticospinal tract was absent when movement urgency was high, though motor actions were initiated on time. In contrast, subcortical circuits were progressively inhibited as the time to prepare increased. Interestingly, movement force and vigour were reduced by both TMS and the LAS when movement urgency was high, and enhanced when movement urgency was low. Our findings indicate that preparatory inhibition may not be a obligatory component of motor preparation. The behavioural effects we observed in the absence of preparatory inhibition were induced by both TMS and the LAS, suggesting that accessory sensory stimulation may disrupt motor output when such stimulation is presented in the absence of preparatory inhibition. We conclude that preparatory inhibition may be an adaptive strategy which can serve to protect the prepared motor action from external interference.</p>
<p> bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience</p>
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