Magnetic stimulation of the human motor cortex evokes skin sympathetic nerve activity

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Single-pulse magnetic coil stimulation (Cadwell MES 10) over the cranium induces without pain an electric pulse in the underlying cerebral cortex. Stimulation over the motor cortex can elicit a muscle twitch. In 10 subjects, we tested whether motor cortical stimulation could also elicit skin sympathetic nerve activity (SSNA; n = 8) and muscle sympathetic nerve activity (MSNA; n = 5) in the peroneal nerve. Focal motor cortical stimulation predictably elicited bursts of SSNA but not MSNA; with successive stimuli, the SSNA responses did not readily extinguish (94% of discharges to the motor cortex evoked SSNA responses) and had predictable latencies [739 ± 33 (SE) to 895 ± 13 ms]. The SSNA responses were similar after stimulation of dominant and nondominant sides. Focal stimulation posterior to the motor cortex elicited extinguishable SSNA responses. In three of six subjects, anterior cortical stimulation evoked SSNA responses similar to those seen with motor cortex stimulation but without detectable movement; in the other subjects, anterior stimulation evoked less SSNA discharge than that seen with motor cortex stimulation. Contrasting with motor cortical stimulation, evoked SSNA responses were more readily extinguished with 1) peripheral stimulation that directly elicited forearm muscle activation accompanied by electromyograms similar to those with motor cortical stimulation; 2) auditory stimulation by the click of the energized coil when off the head; and 3) in preliminary experiments, finger afferent stimulation sufficient to cause tingling. Our findings are consistent with the hypothesis that motor cortex stimulation can cause activation of both α-motoneurons and SSNA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)126-134
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of applied physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2000

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Magnetic stimulation of the human motor cortex evokes skin sympathetic nerve activity'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this