Longitudinal evaluation of residual cortical and subcortical motor evoked potentials in spinal cord injured rats

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© Copyright 2016, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. 2016. We have applied transcranial electrical stimulation to rats with spinal cord injury and selectively tested the motor evoked potentials (MEPs) conveyed by descending motor pathways with cortical and subcortical origin. MEPs were elicited by electrical stimulation to the brain and recorded on the tibialis anterior muscles. Stimulation parameters were characterized and changes in MEP responses tested in uninjured rats, in rats with mild or moderate contusion, and in animals with complete transection of the spinal cord. All injuries were located at the T8 vertebral level. Two peaks, termed N1 and N2, were obtained when changing from single pulse stimulation to trains of 9 pulses at 9 Hz. Selective injuries to the brain or spinal cord funiculi evidenced the subcortical origin of N1 and the cortical origin of N2. Animals with mild contusion showed small behavioral deficits and abolished N1 but maintained small amplitude N2 MEPs. Substantial motor deficits developed in rats with moderate contusion, and these rats had completely eliminated N1 and N2 MEPs. Animals with complete cord transection had abolished N1 and N2 and showed severe impairment of locomotion. The results indicate the reliability of MEP testing to longitudinally evaluate over time the degree of impairment of cortical and subcortical spinal pathways after spinal cord injuries of different severity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)907-916
JournalJournal of Neurotrauma
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 15 May 2016


  • Brain stem
  • Locomotion
  • Motor evoked potential
  • Recovery
  • Spinal cord injury


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