Studies of sensory and motor cortex physiology: with observations on akinesia in Parkinson's disease.

M. Hallett, L. G. Cohen, S. M. Bierner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Magnetic stimulation of the brain can be used to investigate sensory and motor physiology and pathophysiology in intact humans. Although uncommon, it is possible for magnetic stimulation over sensorimotor cortex to produce paresthesis. With magnetic stimulation, it is also possible to block the conscious sensation of an electrical shock delivered to the index finger. The magnetic stimulus must be delivered in the interval from 300 msec before to 200 msec after the cutaneous shock and must be delivered over the contralateral hand region of the sensorimotor cortex. In a reaction time situation, the expected voluntary response may be delayed by a magnetic stimulus delivered over the sensorimotor cortex just before the movement. With the use of a relatively weak magnetic stimulus that does not produce a motor evoked potential (MEP) when the body part is at rest, but that will produce a response when the body part is activated, the reaction time can be divided into two periods. In the first period, there is no MEP and the motor cortex remains 'inexcitable'. In the second period, there is a gradual increase in MEP amplitude even though the voluntary electromyographic activity has not yet appeared. This 'excitable' period indicates the activation of motor cortex before the motor command is delivered. Application of this technique to the analysis of prolonged reaction time (akinesia) in patients with Parkinson's disease shows that the excitable period is prolonged. This describes the mechanism underlying the difficulty in the generation of a motor command in these patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)76-85
Number of pages10
JournalElectroencephalography and clinical neurophysiology. Supplement
StatePublished - 1991
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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