It has been well documented that the 15- to 35-Hz oscillatory activity of the sensorimotor cortex shows coherence with the muscle activity during weak to moderate steady contraction. To investigate the muscle dependency of the corticomuscular coherence and its training-related alterations, we quantified the coherence between electroencephalogram (EEG) from the sensorimotor cortex and rectified electromyogram (EMG) from five upper limb (first dorsal interosseous, flexor carpi radialis, extensor carpi radialis, biceps brachii, triceps brachii) and four lower limb muscles (soleus, tibialis anterior, biceps femoris, rectus femoris), while maintaining a constant force level at 30% of maximal voluntary contraction of each muscle, in 24 untrained, 12 skill-trained (ballet dancers), and 10 strength-trained (weightlifters) individuals. Data from untrained subjects demonstrated the muscle dependency of corticomuscular coherence. The magnitude of the EEG-EMG coherence was significantly greater in the distally located lower limb muscles, such as the soleus and tibialis anterior, than in the upper or other lower limb muscles in untrained subjects (P < 0.05). These results imply that oscillatory coupling between the sensorimotor cortex and spinal motoneurons during steady contraction differs among muscles, according to the functional role of each muscle. In addition, the ballet dancers and weightlifters showed smaller EEGEMG coherences than the untrained subjects, especially in the lower limb muscles (P < 0.05). These results indicate that oscillatory interaction between the sensorimotor cortex and spinal motoneurons can be changed by long-term specialized use of the muscles and that this neural adaptation may lead to finer control of muscle force during steady contraction.
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