Differential sets of cortical muscle synergy signatures during adult locomotion
Zandvoort CS., Daffertshofer A., Dominici N.
Muscle synergy assessments are often employed to evaluate the modular organization of the spinal cord during a locomotion task. While they provide valuable insights into the pattern formation of the a-motoneurons at the spinal cord, by construction they cannot capture control from supra-spinal layers. We examined how locomotor muscle synergies are represented in the sensorimotor cortex, with particular focus on the cortico-synergy coherence as a measure of coupling along the cortico-spinal tract. Non-negative matrix factorization served to decompose multivariate electromyographic signals into muscle synergies. Their representations were localized in the cortex using coherence-based beamforming. Overall, the cortico-synergy coherence was maximal in sensorimotor areas especially in the beta-frequency band. However, only for the synergies timed to heel strike, that are related to the double support phases, the coherence was significant. These coherences were closely related to the timing of the activation patterns of the synergies, suggesting sensorimotor cortex to be strongly involved in emergence and control of these synergies.