This study aimed to determine the effects of speech and mastication on interhemispheric inhibition between the right and left primary motor areas (M1s) by using transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). Motor-evoked potentials (MEPs) were recorded from the first dorsal interossei (FDIs) of each hand of 10 healthy right-handed subjects under 3 conditions: at rest (control), during mastication (non-verbal oral movement), and during speech (reading aloud). Test TMS was delivered following conditioning TMS of the contralateral M1 at various interstimulus intervals. Under all conditions, the MEPs in the left FDIs were significantly inhibited after conditioning of the left M1 (i.e. inhibition of the right M1 by TMS of the left hemisphere). In contrast, the left M1 was significantly inhibited by the right hemisphere only during the control and mastication tasks, but not speech task. These results suggest that speech may facilitate the activity of the dominant M1 via functional connectivity between the speech area and the left M1, or may modify the balance of interhemispheric interactions, by suppressing inhibition of the dominant hemisphere by the non-dominant hemisphere. Our findings show a novel aspect of interhemispheric dominance and may improve therapeutic strategies for recovery from stroke.
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