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Neural Plasticity
Volume 2018, Article ID 8713218, 7 pages
Research Article

Effect of Cutaneous Heat Pain on Corticospinal Excitability of the Tibialis Anterior at Rest and during Submaximal Contraction

1Department of Rehabilitation, Université Laval, 1050 Avenue de la Médecine, Quebec City, QC, Canada G1V 0A6
2Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Rehabilitation and Social Integration (CIRRIS), 525 Boul. Wilfrid-Hamel, Quebec City, QC, Canada G1M 2S8

Correspondence should be addressed to Laurent J. Bouyer; ac.lavalu.aer@reyuob.tnerual

Received 15 December 2017; Accepted 27 March 2018; Published 26 April 2018

Academic Editor: Isaac O. Sorinola

Copyright © 2018 Maxime Billot et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Previous studies have shown that pain can interfere with motor control. The neural mechanisms underlying these effects remain largely unknown. At the upper limb, mounting evidence suggests that pain-induced reduction in corticospinal excitability is involved. No equivalent data is currently available at the lower limb. The present study therefore examined the effect of thermal pain on the corticospinal drive to tibialis anterior (TA) at rest and during an isometric submaximal dorsiflexion. Transcranial magnetic stimulation was used to induce motor-evoked potentials (MEPs) in the TA at rest and during contraction in the presence or absence of cutaneous heat pain induced by a thermode positioned above the TA (51°C during 1 s). With similar pain ratings between conditions (3.9/10 at rest and 3.6/10 during contraction), results indicate significant decreases in MEP amplitude during both rest (−9%) and active conditions (−13%) (main effect of pain, ). These results therefore suggest that cutaneous heat pain can reduce corticospinal excitability in the TA muscle and that such reduction in corticospinal excitability could contribute to the interference of pain on motor control/motor learning.