The primary somatosensory cortex (SI) plays a critical role in somatosensation as well as in action performance and social cognition. Although the SI has been a major target of experimental and clinical research using non-invasive transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), to date information on the effect of TMS over the SI on its resting-state functional connectivity is very scant. Here, we explored whether continuous theta burst stimulation (cTBS), a repetitive TMS protocol, administered over the SI can change the functional connectivity of the brain at rest, as measured using resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rs-fMRI). In a randomized order on two different days we administered active TMS or sham TMS over the left SI. TMS was delivered off-line before scanning by means of cTBS. The target area was selected previously and individually for each subject as the part of the SI activated both when the participant executes and observes actions. Three analytical approaches, both theory driven (partial correlations and seed based whole brain regression) and more data driven (Independent Component Analysis), indicated a reduction in functional connectivity between the stimulated part of the SI and several brain regions functionally associated with the SI including the dorsal premotor cortex, the cerebellum, basal ganglia, and anterior cingulate cortex. These findings highlight the impact of cTBS delivered over the SI on its functional connectivity at rest. Our data may have implications for experimental and therapeutic applications of cTBS over the SI.
Keywords: Connectivity; Primary somatosensory cortex; Resting-state; cTBS.
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