Magnetic stimulation of corticospinal pathways at the foramen magnum level in humans

Ann Neurol. 1994 Oct;36(4):618-24. doi: 10.1002/ana.410360410.


Magnetic stimulation done with a double cone coil placed over the back of the head activated descending motor pathways and produced electromyographic responses in muscles of the arms and legs. The latencies of these responses were the same as those of responses to electrical brainstem stimulation. The threshold was lowest when the coil was placed over the inion or below it on the median line. Placement of the coil on the side ipsilateral to the muscle was more effective than placement on the contralateral side. These results indicate that activation occurs at the foramen magnum level (just below the pyramidal decussation). Collision experiments that used cortical and magnetic brainstem stimulation indicated that the major part of the responses to the latter stimulation were conducted via the large diameter component of the corticospinal tract. Collision experiments done with the peripheral nerve and magnetic brainstem stimulation showed that this stimulation produced a single descending volley in the descending tract. We conclude that magnetic brainstem stimulation produces a single descending volley in the corticospinal tract at the foramen magnum level with less discomfort.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain Stem / physiology
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Foramen Magnum / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Magnetics*
  • Mastoid
  • Methods
  • Motor Activity
  • Muscles / physiology*
  • Pyramidal Tracts / physiology*