Hemispheric Differences in Corticospinal Excitability and in Transcallosal Inhibition in Relation to Degree of Handedness

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In this study, we examined hemispheric differences in corticospinal excitability and in transcallosal inhibition in a selected group of young adults (n = 34) grouped into three handedness categories (RH: strongly right-handed, n = 17; LH: strongly left-handed, n = 10; MH: mixed-handed, n = 7) based on laterality quotients (LQ) derived from the Edinburgh Handedness Inventory. Performance measures were also used to derive a laterality index reflecting right-left asymmetries in manual dexterity (Dextli) and in finger tapping speed (Speedli). Corticospinal excitability was assessed in each hemisphere by means of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) using the first dorsal interosseus as the target muscle. TMS measures consisted of resting motor threshold (rMT), motor evoked potential (MEP) recruitment curve (RC) and the contralateral silent period (cSP) with the accompanying MEP facilitation. Hemispheric interactions were assessed by means of the ipsilateral silent period (iSP) to determine the onset latency and the duration of transcallosal inhibition (i.e., LTI and DTI). Analysis of hemispheric variations in measures of corticospinal excitability revealed no major asymmetries in relation to degrees of laterality or handedness, with the exception of a rightward increase in rMTs in the LH group. Similarly, no clear asymmetries were found when looking at hemispheric variations in measures of transcallosal inhibition. However, a large group effect was detected for LTI measures, which were found to be significantly shorter in the MH group than in either the LH or RH group. MH participants also tended to show longer DTI than the other participants. Further inspection of overall variations in LTI and DTI measures as a function of LQs revealed that both variables followed a non-linear relationship, which was best described by a 2nd order polynomial function. Overall, these findings provide converging evidence for a link between mixed-handedness and more efficient interhemispheric communication when compared to either right- or left-handedness. © 2013 Davidson, Tremblay.




Davidson, T., & Tremblay, F. (2013). Hemispheric Differences in Corticospinal Excitability and in Transcallosal Inhibition in Relation to Degree of Handedness. PLoS ONE, 8(7). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0070286

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