A reduced somatosensory gating response in individuals with multiple sclerosis is related to walking impairment

David J. Arpin, James E. Gehringer, Tony W. Wilson, Max J. Kurz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Scopus citations

Abstract

When identical stimuli are presented in rapid temporal succession, neural responses to the second stimulation are often weaker than those observed for the first. This phenomenon is termed sensory gating and is believed to be an adaptive feature that helps prevent higher-order cortical centers from being flooded with unnecessary information. Recently, sensory gating in the somatosensory system has been linked to deficits in tactile discrimination. Additionally, studies have linked poor tactile discrimination with impaired walking and balance in individuals with multiple sclerosis (MS). In this study, we examine the neural basis of somatosensory gating in patients with MS and healthy controls and assess the relationship between somatosensory gating and walking performance. We used magnetoencephalography to record neural responses to paired-pulse electrical stimulation applied to the right posterior tibial nerve. All participants also walked across a digital mat, which recorded their spatiotemporal gait kinematics. Our results showed the amplitude of the response to the second stimulation was sharply reduced only in controls, resulting in a significantly reduced somatosensory gating in the patients with MS. No group differences were observed in the amplitude of the response to the first stimulation nor the latency of the neural response to either the first or second stimulation. Interestingly, the altered somatosensory gating responses were correlated with aberrant spatiotemporal gait kinematics in the patients with MS. These results suggest that inhibitory GABA circuits may be altered in patients with MS, which impacts somatosensory gating and contributes to the motor performance deficits seen in these patients. NEW & NOTEWORTHY We aimed to determine whether somatosensory gating in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) differed compared with healthy controls and whether a relationship exists between somatosensory gating and walking performance. We found reduced somatosensory gating responses in patients with MS, and these altered somatosensory gating responses were correlated with the mobility impairments. These novel findings show that somatosensory gating is impaired in patients with MS and is related to the mobility impairments seen in these patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2052-2058
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Neurophysiology
Volume118
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2017

Keywords

  • Cortical inhibition
  • Magnetoencephalography
  • Paired-pulse
  • Sensory gating

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Physiology

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