Neuroimaging studies have shown neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES)-evoked movements activate regions of the cortical sensorimotor network, including the primary sensorimotor cortex (SMC), premotor cortex (PMC), supplementary motor area (SMA), and secondary somatosensory area (S2), as well as regions of the prefrontal cortex (PFC) known to be involved in pain processing. The aim of this study, on nine healthy subjects, was to compare the cortical network activation profile and pain ratings during NMES of the right forearm wrist extensor muscles at increasing current intensities up to and slightly over the individual maximal tolerated intensity (MTI), and with reference to voluntary (VOL) wrist extension movements. By exploiting the capability of the multi-channel time domain functional near-infrared spectroscopy technique to relate depth information to the photon time-of-flight, the cortical and superficial oxygenated (O2Hb) and deoxygenated (HHb) hemoglobin concentrations were estimated. The O2Hb and HHb maps obtained using the General Linear Model (NIRS-SPM) analysis method, showed that the VOL and NMES-evoked movements significantly increased activation (i.e., increase in O2Hb and corresponding decrease in HHb) in the cortical layer of the contralateral sensorimotor network (SMC, PMC/SMA, and S2). However, the level and area of contralateral sensorimotor network (including PFC) activation was significantly greater for NMES than VOL. Furthermore, there was greater bilateral sensorimotor network activation with the high NMES current intensities which corresponded with increased pain ratings. In conclusion, our findings suggest that greater bilateral sensorimotor network activation profile with high NMES current intensities could be in part attributable to increased attentional/pain processing and to increased bilateral sensorimotor integration in these cortical regions.
Field of Research
119999 Medical and Health Sciences not elsewhere classified MD Multidisciplinary
Socio Economic Objective
920499 Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health) not elsewhere classified
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