Intracortical origin of the short latency facilitation produced by pairs of threshold magnetic stimuli applied to human motor cortex

Exp Brain Res. 1999 Dec;129(4):494-9. doi: 10.1007/s002210050919.


Under certain conditions, EMG responses evoked by pairs of transcranial magnetic stimuli over the motor cortex are larger than the sum of the responses to each stimulus given alone. This occurs with interstimulus intervals of around 1.3, 2.5 and 4.3 ms and could be due to interaction between the responses to each stimulus at either the cortex or spinal cord. We recorded the descending volleys set up by such pairs of stimuli from the cervical epidural space of five patients implanted with chronic stimulators for pain control. Interstimulus intervals of 1, 1.2, 1.4 and 2 ms were used to investigate the first peak of facilitation. Enhanced EMG responses occurred after pairs of stimuli at 1, 1.2 and 1.4 ms, and these were accompanied by larger and more numerous descending volleys than expected from the sum of each stimulus alone. We conclude that facilitatory interaction between the stimuli can occur within the cerebral cortex. This may involve elements that produce repetitive I-wave activity in response to a single stimulus.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Electric Stimulation Therapy
  • Electromyography
  • Epidural Space
  • Hand / innervation
  • Humans
  • Magnetics*
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Cortex / cytology
  • Motor Cortex / physiology*
  • Motor Neurons / physiology
  • Neural Inhibition / physiology
  • Pain Management
  • Reaction Time / physiology*