Modulation of corticospinal excitability related to the forearm muscle during robot-assisted stepping in humans

Taku Kitamura, Yohei Masugi, Shin ichiroh Yamamoto, Toru Ogata, Noritaka Kawashima, Kimitaka Nakazawa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In recent years, the neural control mechanisms of the arms and legs during human bipedal walking have been clarified. Rhythmic leg stepping leads to suppression of monosynaptic reflex excitability in forearm muscles. However, it is unknown whether and how corticospinal excitability of the forearm muscle is modulated during leg stepping. The purpose of the present study was to investigate the excitability of the corticospinal tract in the forearm muscle during passive and voluntary stepping. To compare the neural effects on corticospinal excitability to those on monosynaptic reflex excitability, the present study also assessed the excitability of the H-reflex in the forearm muscle during both types of stepping. A robotic gait orthosis was used to produce leg stepping movements similar to those of normal walking. Motor evoked potentials (MEPs) and H-reflexes were evoked in the flexor carpi radialis (FCR) muscle during passive and voluntary stepping. The results showed that FCR MEP amplitudes were significantly enhanced during the mid-stance and terminal-swing phases of voluntary stepping, while there was no significant difference between the phases during passive stepping. Conversely, the FCR H-reflex was suppressed during both voluntary and passive stepping, compared to the standing condition. The present results demonstrated that voluntary commands to leg muscles, combined with somatosensory inputs, may facilitate corticospinal excitability in the forearm muscle, and that somatosensory inputs during walking play a major role in monosynaptic reflex suppression in forearm muscle.

Original languageEnglish
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • H-reflex
  • Lokomat
  • Robotic gait orthosis
  • Somatosensory input
  • Transcranial magnetic stimulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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