TMS and drugs revisited 2014

Clin Neurophysiol. 2015 Oct;126(10):1847-68. doi: 10.1016/j.clinph.2014.08.028. Epub 2014 Dec 4.


The combination of pharmacology and transcranial magnetic stimulation to study the effects of drugs on TMS-evoked EMG responses (pharmaco-TMS-EMG) has considerably improved our understanding of the effects of TMS on the human brain. Ten years have elapsed since an influential review on this topic has been published in this journal (Ziemann, 2004). Since then, several major developments have taken place: TMS has been combined with EEG to measure TMS evoked responses directly from brain activity rather than by motor evoked potentials in a muscle, and pharmacological characterization of the TMS-evoked EEG potentials, although still in its infancy, has started (pharmaco-TMS-EEG). Furthermore, the knowledge from pharmaco-TMS-EMG that has been primarily obtained in healthy subjects is now applied to clinical settings, for instance, to monitor or even predict clinical drug responses in neurological or psychiatric patients. Finally, pharmaco-TMS-EMG has been applied to understand the effects of CNS active drugs on non-invasive brain stimulation induced long-term potentiation-like and long-term depression-like plasticity. This is a new field that may help to develop rationales of pharmacological treatment for enhancement of recovery and re-learning after CNS lesions. This up-dated review will highlight important knowledge and recent advances in the contribution of pharmaco-TMS-EMG and pharmaco-TMS-EEG to our understanding of normal and dysfunctional excitability, connectivity and plasticity of the human brain.

Keywords: Connectivity; Cortex; Electroencephalography; Excitability; Motor evoked potential; Pharmacology; Plasticity; Transcranial magnetic stimulation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain / drug effects
  • Brain / physiology
  • Electroencephalography / drug effects
  • Electroencephalography / methods*
  • Evoked Potentials, Motor / drug effects
  • Evoked Potentials, Motor / physiology
  • Humans
  • Motor Cortex / drug effects
  • Motor Cortex / physiology
  • Neuronal Plasticity / drug effects
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations / administration & dosage*
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation / drug effects
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation / methods*


  • Pharmaceutical Preparations