Simulation of electromyographic recordings following transcranial magnetic stimulation

Bahar Moezzi, Natalie Schaworonkow, Lukas Plogmacher, Mitchell R. Goldsworthy, Brenton Hordacre, Mark D. McDonnell, Nicolangelo Iannella, Michael C. Ridding, Jochen Triesch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a technique that enables noninvasive manipulation of neural activity and holds promise in both clinical and basic research settings. The effect of TMS on the motor cortex is often measured by electromyography (EMG) recordings from a small hand muscle. However, the details of how TMS generates responses measured with EMG are not completely understood. We aim to develop a biophysically detailed computational model to study the potential mechanisms underlying the generation of EMG signals following TMS. Our model comprises a feed-forward network of cortical layer 2/3 cells, which drive morphologically detailed layer 5 corticomotoneuronal cells, which in turn project to a pool of motoneurons. EMG signals are modeled as the sum of motor unit action potentials. EMG recordings from the first dorsal interosseous muscle were performed in four subjects and compared with simulated EMG signals. Our model successfully reproduces several characteristics of the experimental data. The simulated EMG signals match experimental EMG recordings in shape and size, and change with stimulus intensity and contraction level as in experimental recordings. They exhibit cortical silent periods that are close to the biological values and reveal an interesting dependence on inhibitory synaptic transmission properties. Our model predicts several characteristics of the firing patterns of neurons along the entire pathway from cortical layer 2/3 cells down to spinal motoneurons and should be considered as a viable tool for explaining and analyzing EMG signals following TMS. NEW & NOTEWORTHY A biophysically detailed model of EMG signal generation following transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is proposed. Simulated EMG signals match experimental EMG recordings in shape and amplitude. Motor-evoked potential and cortical silent period properties match experimental data. The model is a viable tool to analyze, explain, and predict EMG signals following TMS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2532-2541
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Neurophysiology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished or Issued - 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Computational model
  • Electromyography
  • First dorsal interosseous muscle
  • Motor cortex
  • Transcranial magnetic stimulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Physiology

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