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The preparation of motor responses during the delay period of an instructed delay task is associated with sustained neural firing in the primate premotor cortex. It remains unclear how and when such preparation-related premotor activity influences the motor output system. In this study, we tested modulation of corticospinal excitability using single-pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) during a delayed-response task. At the beginning of the delay interval participants were either provided with no information, spatial attentional information concerning location but not identity of an upcoming imperative stimulus, or information regarding the upcoming response. Behavioral data indicate that participants used all information available to them. Only when information concerning the upcoming response was provided did corticospinal excitability show differential modulation for the effector muscle compared to other task-unrelated muscles. We conclude that modulation of corticospinal excitability reflects specific response preparation, rather than non-specific event preparation.

Original publication




Journal article


Experimental brain research

Publication Date





125 - 129


Sobell Department of Motor Neuroscience and Movement Disorders, Institute of Neurology, University College London, London, WC1N 3BG, UK.


Fingers, Muscle, Skeletal, Cerebral Cortex, Spinal Cord, Humans, Eye Movements, Electromyography, Photic Stimulation, Cues, Space Perception, Psychomotor Performance, Attention, Reaction Time, Evoked Potentials, Motor, Adolescent, Adult, Female, Male, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation