Priming theta-burst repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation with low- and high-frequency stimulation

Gabrielle Todd, Stanley C Flavel, Michael C Ridding
Experimental Brain Research. Experimentelle Hirnforschung. Expérimentation Cérébrale 2009, 195 (2): 307-15
Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) can be used to study metaplasticity in human motor cortex. The term metaplasticity describes a phenomenon where the prior synaptic history of a pathway can affect the subsequent induction of long-term potentiation or depression. In the current study, we investigated metaplasticity in human motor cortex with the use of inhibitory continuous theta-burst stimulation (cTBS). cTBS involves short bursts of high frequency (50 Hz) rTMS applied every 200 ms for 40 s. In the first series of experiments, cTBS was primed with 10 min of intermittent 2 or 6 Hz rTMS. Subjects (n = 20) received priming stimulation at 70% of active motor threshold or 90% of resting motor threshold. In another series of experiments, cTBS was primed with excitatory intermittent theta-burst stimulation (iTBS). iTBS involves a 2 s train of theta-burst stimulation delivered every 10 s for 190 s. Stimuli were delivered over the first dorsal interosseus motor area.. The effect of cTBS alone and primed cTBS on motor cortical excitability was investigated by recording motor-evoked potentials (MEP) in the first dorsal interosseus following single-pulse TMS. MEP area in the cTBS alone condition was not significantly different from cTBS primed with 2 or 6 Hz rTMS. However, priming cTBS with iTBS suppressed MEP area to a greater extent than in cTBS alone. Our results provide further evidence of metaplasticity in human motor cortex when appropriate priming protocols are employed.

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