The voluntary step execution task is a popular measure for identifying fall risks among elderly individuals in the community setting because most falls have been reported to occur during movement. However, the neurophysiological functions during this movement are not entirely understood. Here, we used electromyography (EMG) to explore the relationship between EMG-EMG coherence, which reflects common oscillatory drive to motoneurons, and motor performance associated with stepping tasks: simple reaction time (SRT) and choice reaction time (CRT) tasks. Ten healthy elderly adults participated in the study. Participants took a single step forward in response to a visual imperative stimulus. EMG-EMG coherence was analyzed for 1000 ms before the presentation of the stimulus (stationary standing position) from proximal and distal tibialis anterior (TA) and soleus (SOL) muscles. The main result showed that all paired EMG-EMG coherences in the alpha and beta frequency bands were greater in the SRT than the CRT task. This finding suggests that the common oscillatory drive to the motoneurons during the SRT task occurred prior to taking a step, whereas the lower value of corticospinal activity during the CRT task prior to taking a step may indicate an involvement of inhibitory activity, which is consistent with observations from our previous study (Watanabe et al., 2016). Furthermore, the beta band coherence in intramuscular TA tended to positively correlate with the number of performance errors that are associated with fall risks in the CRT task, suggesting that a reduction in the inhibitory activity may result in a decrease of stepping performance. These findings could advance the understanding of the neurophysiological features of postural adjustments in elderly individuals.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
- Psychiatry and Mental health
- Biological Psychiatry
- Behavioral Neuroscience