Task-relevancy effects on movement-related gating are modulated by continuous theta-burst stimulation of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and primary somatosensory cortex
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Movement-related gating ensures that decreased somatosensory information from external stimulation reaches the cortex during movement when compared to resting levels; however, gating may be influenced by task-relevant manipulations, such that increased sensory information ascends to the cortex when information is relevant to goal-based actions. These task-relevancy effects are hypothesized to be controlled by a network involving the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) based on this region's known role in selective attention, modulating the primary somatosensory cortex (S1). The purpose of the current study was first to verify task-relevancy influences on movement-related gating in the upper limb, and second to test the contribution of the DLPFC and the primary somatosensory cortex (S1) to these relevancy effects. Ten healthy participants received median nerve stimulation at the left wrist during three conditions: rest, task-irrelevant movement, and task-relevant movement. Cortical responses to median nerve stimulations were measured in the form of somatosensory evoked potentials (SEPs). The three conditions were collected on a baseline day and on two separate days following continuous theta-burst (cTBS), which transiently reduces cortical excitability, over either the contralateral S1 or DLPFC. Results demonstrated a significant interaction between stimulation and condition, with a priori contrasts revealing that cTBS over either S1 or DLPFC diminished the relevancy-based modulation of SEP amplitudes; however, the degree of this effect was different. These results indicate that DLPFC influences over S1 are involved in the facilitation of relevant sensory information during movement.
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