The associative brain at work: Evidence from paired associative stimulation studies in humans

Clin Neurophysiol. 2017 Nov;128(11):2140-2164. doi: 10.1016/j.clinph.2017.08.003. Epub 2017 Sep 5.


The original protocol of Paired Associative Stimulation (PAS) in humans implies repetitive cortical and peripheral nerve stimuli, delivered at specific inter-stimulus intervals, able to elicit non-invasively long-term potentiation (LTP)- and long-term depression (LTD)-like plasticity in the human motor cortex. PAS has been designed to drive cortical LTP/LTD according to the Hebbian rule of associative plasticity. Over the last two decades, a growing number of researchers have increasingly used the PAS technique to assess cortical associative plasticity in healthy humans and in patients with movement disorders and other neuropsychiatric diseases. The present review covers the physiology, pharmacology, pathology and motor effects of PAS. Further sections of the review focus on new protocols of "modified PAS" and possible future application of PAS in neuromorphic circuits designed for brain-computer interface.

Keywords: Paired associative stimulation; Plasticity; Primary motor cortex; STDP.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Association*
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Electric Stimulation / methods*
  • Humans
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*