Long lasting modulation of cortical oscillations after continuous theta burst transcranial magnetic stimulation

Nor Azila Noh, Giorgio Fuggetta, Paolo Manganotti, Antonio Fiaschi

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Transcranial magnetic theta burst stimulation (TBS) differs from other high-frequency rTMS protocols because it induces plastic changes up to an hour despite lower stimulus intensity and shorter duration of stimulation. However, the effects of TBS on neuronal oscillations remain unclear. In this study, we used electroencephalography (EEG) to investigate changes of neuronal oscillations after continuous TBS (cTBS), the protocol that emulates long-term depression (LTD) form of synaptic plasticity. We randomly divided 26 healthy humans into two groups receiving either Active or Sham cTBS as control over the left primary motor cortex (M1). Post-cTBS aftereffects were assessed with behavioural measurements at rest using motor evoked potentials (MEPs) and at active state during the execution of a choice reaction time (RT) task in combination with continuous electrophysiological recordings. The cTBS-induced EEG oscillations were assessed using event-related power (ERPow), which reflected regional oscillatory activity of neural assemblies of θ (4-7.5 Hz), low α (8-9.5 Hz), µ (10-12.5 Hz), low β (13-19.5 Hz), and high β (20-30 Hz) brain rhythms. Results revealed 20-min suppression of MEPs and at least 30-min increase of ERPow modulation, suggesting that besides MEPs, EEG has the potential to provide an accurate cortical readout to assess cortical excitability and to investigate the interference of cortical oscillations in the human brain post-cTBS. We also observed a predominant modulation of β frequency band, supporting the hypothesis that cTBS acts more on cortical level. Theta oscillations were also modulated during rest implying the involvement of independent cortical theta generators over the motor network post cTBS. This work provided more insights into the underlying mechanisms of cTBS, providing a possible link between synchronised neural oscillations and LTD in humans.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e35080
JournalPLoS One
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • Adult
  • Electroencephalography
  • Evoked Potentials, Motor
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Long-Term Synaptic Depression
  • Motor Cortex
  • Psychomotor Performance
  • Reaction Time
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation
  • Young Adult

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