Movement-related cortical potentials associated with progressive muscle fatigue in a grasping task

J. Johnston, M. Rearick, S. Slobounov

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53 Scopus citations


Objective: The present research was aimed to further address the general empirical question regarding the behavioral and neurophysiological indices and mechanisms that contribute to and/or compensate for muscle fatigue. In particular, we examined isometric force production, EMG, and EEG correlates of progressive muscle fatigue while subjects performed a grasping task. Methods: Six neurologically healthy subjects were instructed to produce and maintain 70% of maximum voluntary contraction (MVC) for a total of 5 s in a sequence of 120 trials using a specially designed grip dynamometer. Three components of movement-related potentials (Bereitschaftspotential, BP, Motor potential, MP, and Movement-monitoring potential, MMP) were extracted from continuous EEG records and analyzed with reference to behavioral indicators of muscle fatigue. Results: Experimental manipulations induced muscle fatigue that was demonstrated by decreases in both MVC values and mean force levels produced concomitant to increases in EMG root mean square (RMS) amplitude with respect to baseline levels, and EMG slope. EEG data revealed a significant increase in MP amplitude at precentral (Cz and FCz) and contralateral (C3) electrode sites, and increases in BP amplitude at precentral (Cz and FCz) electrode sites. Conclusions: The increases in EMG amplitude, EMG slope, and MP amplitudes suggest a possible link between the control signal originating in the motor cortex and activity level of the α-motoneuron pool as a function of progressive muscle fatigue. Overall, the data demonstrate that progressive muscle fatigue induced a systematic increase in the electrocortical activation over the supplementary motor and contralateral sensorimotor areas as reflected in the amplitude of movement-related EEG potentials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)68-77
Number of pages10
JournalClinical Neurophysiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2001

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sensory Systems
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Physiology (medical)


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