Experimental environment improves the reliability of short-latency afferent inhibition Academic Article uri icon

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  • Evidence indicates attention can alter afferent inhibition, a Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) evoked measure of cortical inhibition following somatosensory input. When peripheral nerve stimulation is delivered prior to TMS, a phenomenon known as afferent inhibition occurs. The latency between the peripheral nerve stimulation dictates the subtype of afferent inhibition evoked, either short latency afferent inhibition (SAI) or long latency afferent inhibition (LAI). While afferent inhibition is emerging as a valuable tool for clinical assessment of sensorimotor function, the reliability of the measure remains relatively low. Therefore, to improve the translation of afferent inhibition within and beyond the research lab, the reliability of the measure must be improved. Previous literature suggests that the focus of attention can modify the magnitude of afferent inhibition. As such, controlling the focus of attention may be one method to improve the reliability of afferent inhibition. In the present study, the magnitude and reliability of SAI and LAI was assessed under four conditions with varying attentional demands focused on the somatosensory input that evokes SAI and LAI circuits. Thirty individuals participated in four conditions; three conditions were identical in their physical parameters and varied only in the focus of directed attention (visual attend, tactile attend, non- directed attend) and one condition consisted of no external physical parameters (no stimulation). Reliability was measured by repeating conditions at three time points to assess intrasession and intersession reliability. Results indicate that the magnitude of SAI and LAI were not modulated by attention. However, the reliability of SAI demonstrated increased intrasession and intersession reliability compared to the no stimulation condition. The reliability of LAI was unaffected by the attention conditions. This research demonstrates the impact of attention/arousal on the reliability of afferent inhibition and has identified new parameters to inform the design of TMS research to improve reliability.


  • Ramdeo, Karishma R
  • Rehsi, Ravjot S
  • Foglia, Stevie D
  • Turco, Claudia V
  • Toepp, Stephen L
  • Nelson, Aimee

publication date

  • 2023