Abstract

Corticomotoneuronal cells (CMN), located predominantly in the primary motor cortex, project directly to alpha motoneuronal pools in the spinal cord. The effects of CMN spikes on motoneuronal excitability are traditionally characterized by visualizing postspike effects (PSEs) in spike-triggered averages (SpTA; Fetz, Cheney, & German, 1976; Fetz & Cheney, 1980; McKiernan, Marcario, Karrer, & Cheney, 1998) of electromyography (EMG) data. Poliakov and Schieber (1998) suggested a formal test, the multiple-fragment analysis (MFA), to automatically detect PSEs. However, MFA's performance was not statistically validated, and it is unclear under what conditions it is valid. This paper's contributions are a power study that validates the MFA; an alternative test, the single-snippet analysis (SSA), which has the same functionality as MFA but is easier to calculate and has better power in small samples; a simple bootstrap simulation to estimate SpTA baselines with simulation bands that help visualize potential PSEs; and a bootstrap adjustment to the MFA and SSA to correct for nonlinear SpTA baselines.

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