Magnetic stimulation in Alzheimer's disease

J Neurol. 1997 May;244(5):304-7. doi: 10.1007/s004150050091.


Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a common cause of dementia in which some clinical motor abnormalities have been described. We used transcranial magnetic stimulation in order to test the hypothesis that the change in the motor cortex might cause modifications in motor excitability. Fourteen mildly to moderately affected AD patients were compared with 11 controls matched for age, height and sex. The motor evoked potential threshold value for the relaxed abductor digiti minimi was lower in the AD patients than in the control group for both left and right hemispheres (P < 0.05). No statistically significant difference was found comparing the left and the right hemispheres thresholds in each population. The mean interside threshold differences were small and not significantly different between patients and controls. The spinal motor neuron excitability, as evaluated by F/M and H/M waves amplitude ratios, showed no difference between the groups, reinforcing the motor cortex increased excitability hypothesis to explain this difference. Degeneration of inhibitory gabaergic terminals might be the basis for the increased cortical excitability in the motor cortex of the Alzheimer patients; postsynaptic changes in the GABAA receptors might also affect inhibitory gabaergic transmission. The increased excitability found by transcranial magnetic stimulation in the motor cortex is important for understanding the emergence of seizures and myoclonus in this disease.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Alzheimer Disease / pathology*
  • Alzheimer Disease / physiopathology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cerebral Cortex / pathology*
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiopathology*
  • Evoked Potentials, Motor*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged