2015 Volume 27 Issue 12 Pages 3793-3798
[Purpose] The aim of this study was to investigate the changes in spinal motor neuron excitability and autonomic nervous system activity during motor imagery of isometric thenar muscle activity at 10% and 50% maximal voluntary contraction (MVC). [Methods] The F-waves and low frequency/high frequency (LF/HF) ratio were recorded at rest, during motor imagery, and post-trial. For motor imagery trials, subjects were instructed to imagine thenar muscle activity at 10% and 50% MVC while holding the sensor of a pinch meter for 5 min. [Results] The F-waves and LF/HF ratio during motor imagery at 50% MVC were significantly increased compared with those at rest, whereas those during motor imagery at 10% MVC were not significantly different from those at rest. The relative values of the F/M amplitude ratio during motor imagery at 50% MVC were significantly higher than those at 10% MVC. The relative values of persistence and the LF/HF ratio during motor imagery were similar during motor imagery at the two muscle contraction strengths. [Conclusion] Motor imagery can increase the spinal motor neuron excitability and cardiac sympathetic nerve activity. Motor imagery at 50% MVC may be more effective than motor imagery at 10% MVC.