Chronic administration of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) paroxetine modulates human motor cortex excitability in healthy subjects

Neuroimage. 2005 Aug 15;27(2):314-22. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2005.05.009.


The aim of the study was to investigate the effect of chronic administration of paroxetine (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor: SSRI) on motor cortex excitability in healthy subjects by means of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and behavioral motor tests. In a randomized, double-blind, crossover study, twenty-one right-handed subjects received 20 mg daily of either paroxetine or a placebo over a period of 30 days separated by a period of 3 months wash-out. The TMS study is presented here correlated with some results of the motor behavior study (finger tapping test) and the fMRI study (primary sensorimotor cortex (S1M1) volume of activation). TMS was used to test motor threshold (MT), motor evoked potential recruitment curve (RC), cortical silent period (CSP) and paired-pulse intracortical inhibition and facilitation (ICI, ICF). Chronic administration of paroxetine did not modulate ICI or CSP but induced a significant enhancement of mean ICF (ANOVA P=0.04), which significantly correlated with increase of speed in a finger tapping test (P=0.02). This suggests a modulation of cortical interneuronal excitatory pathways without changes in the excitability of cortical inhibitory GABAergic interneurons. A decrease of RC (ANOVA P=0.05) was also observed after 30 days intake of paroxetine in comparison with placebo and was associated with changes of fMRI activation intensity (left S1M1 hypoactivation, ), without changes of S1M1 activation volume. Finally, the different modulation of RC and ICF after chronic administration of paroxetine compared to single dose (opposite effects) emphasizes the different pharmacological action of the drug at cortical level depending on its acute or long-term administration.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Electromagnetic Fields
  • Electromyography
  • Female
  • Fingers
  • Functional Laterality / physiology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Cortex / drug effects*
  • Paroxetine / pharmacology*
  • Psychomotor Performance / drug effects
  • Recruitment, Neurophysiological / drug effects
  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors / pharmacology*


  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors
  • Paroxetine