Inhibition of contralateral premotor cortex delays visually guided reaching movements in men but not in women
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The premotor-parietal network for preparation of visually guided reaching demonstrates activity mainly contralateral to the reaching arm in men but bilaterally in women. These sex differences are most prominent in the dorsal premotor cortex (PMd); however, the functional implications of these differences remain unclear. Therefore, in the experiments described here, we used continuous theta burst stimulation (cTBS) to test hypotheses regarding the roles of PMd both contralateral and ipsilateral to the reaching arm in men and in women. Inhibitory cTBS of the ipsilateral PMd did not have a significant effect on reaction time in either men or women. However, cTBS of the contralateral PMd resulted in a slowed mean reaction time in men but not in women. Movement times were unaffected by stimulation applied to either hemisphere. These results suggest the presence of sex differences in processing within the left PMd during visually guided reaching movements using the right arm. Further, when taken together, the results suggest that ipsilateral PMd activity in women may not be functionally necessary for reaching movements. Rather, this ipsilateral activity may provide a protective redundancy that can compensate for decreased activity from the contralateral PMd. The observation of sex differences in reaction times but not in movement times following cTBS to the contralateral hemisphere suggests that these sex differences are more strongly associated with movement planning than with motor execution.
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