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10 June 2024 : Clinical Research  

Enhancement of Motor Learning and Corticospinal Excitability: The Role of Electroacupuncture and Motor Training in Healthy Volunteers

Jiahui Lin ORCID logo1BCDEF, Jiemei Li ORCID logo12BCD, Jianpeng Huang ORCID logo1CD, Sheng Li ORCID logo1CD, Jian Sun ORCID logo3DF, Jianhua Liu ORCID logo1ABCDEFG*

DOI: 10.12659/MSM.943748

Med Sci Monit 2024; 30:e943748

Abstract

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BACKGROUND: This study embarked on an innovative exploration to elucidate the effects of integrating electroacupuncture (EA) with motor training (MT) on enhancing corticospinal excitability and motor learning. Central to this investigation is the interplay between homeostatic and non-homeostatic metaplasticity processes, providing insights into how these combined interventions may influence neural plasticity and motor skill acquisition.

MATERIAL AND METHODS: The investigation enrolled 20 healthy volunteers, subjecting them to 4 distinct interventions to parse out the individual and combined effects of EA and MT. These interventions were EA alone, MT alone, EA-priming followed by MT, and MT-priming followed by EA. The assessment of changes in primary motor cortex (M1) excitability was conducted through motor-evoked potentials (MEPs), while the grooved pegboard test (GPT) was used to evaluate alterations in motor performance.

RESULTS: The findings revealed that EA and MT independently contributed to enhanced M1 excitability and motor performance. However, the additional priming with EA or MT did not yield further modulation in MEPs amplitudes. Notably, EA-priming was associated with improved GPT completion times, underscoring its potential in facilitating motor learning.

CONCLUSIONS: The study underscores that while EA and MT individually augment motor cortex excitability and performance, their synergistic application does not further enhance or inhibit cortical excitability. This points to the involvement of non-homeostatic metaplasticity mechanisms. Nonetheless, EA emerges as a critical tool in preventing M1 overstimulation, thereby continuously fostering motor learning. The findings call for further research into the strategic application of EA, whether in isolation or with MT, within clinical settings to optimize rehabilitation outcomes.

Keywords: Electroacupuncture, Motor Cortex, Motor Skills, Neuronal Plasticity

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Medical Science Monitor eISSN: 1643-3750
Medical Science Monitor eISSN: 1643-3750