The effect of theta-burst TMS on cognitive control networks measured with resting state fMRI

Front Syst Neurosci. 2013 Dec 30;7:124. doi: 10.3389/fnsys.2013.00124. eCollection 2013.


IT HAS BEEN PROPOSED THAT TWO RELATIVELY INDEPENDENT COGNITIVE CONTROL NETWORKS EXIST IN THE BRAIN: the cingulo-opercular network (CO) and the fronto-parietal network (FP). Past work has shown that chronic brain lesions affect these networks independently. It remains unclear, however, how these two networks are affected by acute brain disruptions. To examine this, we conducted a within-subject theta-burst transcranial magnetic stimulation (TBS) experiment in healthy individuals that targeted left anterior insula/frontal operculum (L aI/fO, a region in the CO network), left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (L dlPFC, a region in the FP network), or left primary somatosensory cortex (L S1, an experimental control region). Functional connectivity (FC) was measured in resting state fMRI scans collected before and after continuous TBS on each day. We found that TBS was accompanied by generalized increases in network connectivity, especially FP network connectivity, after TBS to either region involved in cognitive control. Whole-brain analyses demonstrated that the L dlPFC and L aI/fO showed increased connectivity with regions in frontal, parietal, and cingulate cortex after TBS to either L dlPFC or L aI/fO, but not to L S1. These results suggest that acute disruption by TBS to cognitive control regions causes widespread changes in network connectivity not limited to the targeted networks.

Keywords: TMS; brain networks; cognitive control; fMRI; functional connectivity.