Effect of interstimulus interval on cortical proprioceptive responses to passive finger movements

Eero Smeds, Harri Piitulainen, Mathieu Bourguignon, Veikko Jousmäki, Riitta Hari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Shortening of the interstimulus interval (ISI) generally leads to attenuation of cortical sensory responses. For proprioception, however, this ISI effect is still poorly known. Our aim was to characterize the ISI dependence of movement-evoked proprioceptive cortical responses and to find the optimum ISI for proprioceptive stimulation. We measured, from 15 healthy adults, magnetoencephalographic responses to passive flexion and extension movements of the right index finger. The movements were generated by a movement actuator at fixed ISIs of 0.5, 1, 2, 4, 8, and 16 s, in separate blocks. The responses peaked at ~ 70 ms (extension) and ~ 90 ms (flexion) in the contralateral primary somatosensory cortex. The strength of the cortical source increased with the ISI, plateauing at the 8-s ISI. Modeling the ISI dependence with an exponential saturation function revealed response lifetimes of 1.3 s (extension) and 2.2 s (flexion), implying that the maximum signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) in a given measurement time is achieved with ISIs of 1.7 s and 2.8 s respectively. We conclude that ISIs of 1.5–3 s should be used to maximize SNR in recordings of proprioceptive cortical responses to passive finger movements. Our findings can benefit the assessment of proprioceptive afference in both clinical and research settings.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)290–298
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Journal of Neuroscience
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2017
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • brain
  • MEG
  • proprioception


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