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Plantar Sole Unweighting Alters the Sensory Transmission to the Cortical Areas

Abstract : It is well established that somatosensory inputs to the cortex undergo an early and a later stage of processing. The later has been shown to be enhanced when the earlier transmission decreased. In this framework, mechanical factors such as the mechanical stress to which sensors are subjected when wearing a loaded vest are associated with a decrease in sensory transmission. This decrease is in turn associated with an increase in the late sensory processes originating from cortical areas. We hypothesized that unweighting the plantar sole should lead to a facilitation of the sensory transmission. To test this hypothesis, we recorded cortical somatosensory evoked potentials (SEPs) of individuals following cutaneous stimulation (by mean of an electrical stimulation of the foot sole) in different conditions of unweighting when standing still with eyes closed. To this end, the effective bodyweight (BW) was reduced from 100% BW to 40% BW. Contrary to what was expected, we found an attenuation of sensory information when the BW was unweighted to 41% which was not compensated by an increase of the late SEP component. Overall these results suggested that the attenuation of sensory transmission observed in 40 BW condition was not solely due to the absence of forces acting on the sole of the feet but rather to the current relevance of the afferent signals related to the balance constraints of the task.
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Laurence Mouchnino, Olivia Lhomond, Clement Morant, Pascale Chavet. Plantar Sole Unweighting Alters the Sensory Transmission to the Cortical Areas. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, Frontiers, 2017, 11, pp.220. ⟨10.3389/fnhum.2017.00220⟩. ⟨hal-01691137⟩

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