Potentiation of short-latency cortical responses by high-frequency repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation

J Neurophysiol. 2010 Sep;104(3):1578-88. doi: 10.1152/jn.00172.2010. Epub 2010 Jul 14.


It is generally accepted that low- and high-frequency repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) induces changes in cortical excitability, but there is only indirect evidence of its effects despite a large number of studies employing different stimulation parameters. Typically the cortical modulations are inferred through indirect measurements, such as recording the change in electromyographic responses. Recently it has become possible to directly evaluate rTMS-induced changes at the cortical level using electronencephalography (EEG). The present study investigates the modulation induced by high-frequency rTMS via EEG by evaluating changes in the latency and amplitude of TMS-evoked responses. In this study, rTMS was applied to the left primary motor cortex (MI) in 16 participants while an EEG was simultaneously acquired from 29 scalp electrodes. The rTMS consisted of 40 trains at 20 Hz with 10 stimuli each (a total of 400 stimuli) that were delivered at the individual resting motor threshold. The on-line modulation induced by the high-frequency TMS was characterized by a sequence of EEG responses. Two of the rTMS-induced responses, P5 and N8, were specifically modulated according to the protocol. Their latency decreased from the first to the last TMS stimuli, while the amplitude values increased. These results provide the first direct, on-line evaluation of the effects of high-frequency TMS on EEG activity. In addition, the results provide a direct demonstration of cortical potentiation induced by rTMS in humans.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Electric Stimulation / methods
  • Electromyography / methods
  • Evoked Potentials, Motor / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motor Cortex / physiology*
  • Reaction Time / physiology*
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation / methods*
  • Young Adult