Theta-burst Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Alters the Functional Topography of the Cortical Motor Network

Nor Azila Noh, Giorgio Fuggetta, Paolo Manganotti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a non-invasive tool that is able to modulate the electrical activity of the brain depending upon its protocol of stimulation. Theta burst stimulation (TBS) is a high-frequency TMS protocol that is able to induce prolonged plasticity changes in the brain. The induction of plasticity-like effects by TBS is useful in both experimental and therapeutic settings; however, the underlying neural mechanisms of this modulation remain unclear. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of continuous TBS (cTBS) on the intrahemispheric and interhemispheric functional connectivity of the resting and active brain.

METHODS: A total of 26 healthy humans were randomly divided into two groups that received either real cTBS or sham (control) over the left primary motor cortex. Surface electroencephalogram (EEG) was used to quantify the changes of neural oscillations after cTBS at rest and after a choice reaction time test. The cTBS-induced EEG oscillations were computed using spectral analysis of event-related coherence (ERCoh) of theta (4-7.5 Hz), low alpha (8-9.5 Hz), high alpha (10-12.5 Hz), low beta (13-19.5 Hz), and high beta (20-30 Hz) brain rhythms.

RESULTS: We observed a global decrease in functional connectivity of the brain in the cTBS group when compared to sham in the low beta brain rhythm at rest and high beta brain rhythm during the active state. In particular, EEG spectral analysis revealed that high-frequency beta, a cortically generated brain rhythm, was the most sensitive band that was modulated by cTBS.

CONCLUSION: Overall, our findings suggest that cTBS, a TMS protocol that mimics the mechanism of long-term depression of synaptic plasticity, modulates motor network oscillations primarily at the cortical level and might interfere with cortical information coding.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)36-44
Number of pages9
JournalThe Malaysian journal of medical sciences : MJMS
Issue numberSpec Issue
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2015

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