Brain Topography

, Volume 31, Issue 4, pp 700–707 | Cite as

Movement-Related Somatosensory Activity Is Altered in Patients with Multiple Sclerosis

  • David J. Arpin
  • James E. Gehringer
  • Tony W. Wilson
  • Max J. Kurz
Original Paper


During active movement the somatosensory cortical responses are often attenuated. This attenuation is referred to as movement-related sensory gating. It is well known that patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) have sensory processing deficits, and recent work has also suggested that these patients display impaired motor control of the ankle musculature. The primary goal of the current study was to: (1) examine the movement-related somatosensory gating in patients with MS and demographically-matched controls, and (2) identify the relationship between the sensory gating and motor control of the ankle musculature. To this end, we used magnetoencephalography brain imaging to assess the neural responses to a tibial nerve electrical stimulation that was applied at rest (passive) and during an ankle plantarflexion motor task (active condition). All participants also completed an ankle isometric motor control task that was performed outside the scanner. Our results indicated that the controls, but not patients with MS, exhibited significantly reduced somatosensory responses during the active relative to passive conditions, and that patients with MS had stronger responses compared with controls during the active condition. Additionally, control of the ankle musculature was related to the extent of movement-related sensory attenuation, with poor motor control being associated with reduced gating. Overall, these results show that patients with MS do not attenuate the somatosensory cortical activity during motor actions, and that the inability to modulate somatosensory cortical activity is partially related to the poor ankle motor control seen in these patients.


Sensory gating Cortical Motor control Ankle Lower extremity 



Partial funding for this experimental work was provided by the University of Nebraska Foundation, and the National Science Foundation (NSF #1539067).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the Institutional and/or National Research Committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • David J. Arpin
    • 1
    • 2
  • James E. Gehringer
    • 1
    • 2
  • Tony W. Wilson
    • 2
    • 3
  • Max J. Kurz
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Physical Therapy, Munroe-Meyer Institute for Genetics, and RehabilitationUniversity of Nebraska Medical CenterOmahaUSA
  2. 2.Center for MagnetoencephalographyUniversity of Nebraska Medical CenterOmahaUSA
  3. 3.Department of Neurological SciencesUniversity of Nebraska Medical CenterOmahaUSA

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