Deterioration of motor and cognitive performance with advancing age is well documented, but its cause remains unknown. Animal studies dating back to the late 1970s reveal that age-associated neurocognitive changes are linked to age-dependent changes in synaptic plasticity, including alterations of long-term potentiation and depression (LTP and LTD). Non-invasive brain stimulation techniques enable measurement of LTP- and LTD-like mechanisms of plasticity, in vivo, in humans, and may thus provide valuable insights. We examined the effects of a 40-s train of continuous theta-burst stimulation (cTBS) to the motor cortex (600 stimuli, three pulses at 50 Hz applied at a frequency of 5 Hz) on cortico-spinal excitability as measured by the motor evoked potentials (MEPs) induced by single-pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation before and after cTBS in the contralateral first dorsal interosseus muscle. Thirty-six healthy individuals aged 19–81 years old were studied in two sites (Boston, USA and Barcelona, Spain). The findings did not differ across study sites. We found that advancing age is negatively correlated with the duration of the effect of cTBS (r = −0.367; p = 0.028) and the overall amount of corticomotor suppression induced by cTBS (r = −0.478; p = 0.003), and positively correlated with the maximal suppression of amplitude on motor evoked responses in the target muscle (r = 0.420; p = 0.011). We performed magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)-based individual morphometric analysis in a subset of subjects to demonstrate that these findings are not explained by age-related brain atrophy or differences in scalp-to-brain distance that could have affected the TBS effects. Our findings provide empirical evidence that the mechanisms of cortical plasticity area are altered with aging and their efficiency decreases across the human lifespan. This may critically contribute to motor and possibly cognitive decline.
cortical plasticity; aging; motor cortex; transcranial magnetic stimulation; continuous theta-burst stimulation; long-term depression
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.
Continuous theta burst stimulation (cTBS) is a repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation protocol that can inhibit human motor cortex (M1) excitability and impair movement for ≤1 h. While offering valuable insights into brain function and potential therapeutic benefits, these neuroplastic effects are highly variable between individuals. The source of this variability, and the electrophysiological mechanisms underlying the inhibitory after-effects, are largely unknown. In this regard, oscillatory activity at beta frequency (15–35 Hz) is of particular interest as it is elevated in motor disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and modulated during the generation of movements. Here, we used a source-level magnetoencephalography approach to investigate the hypothesis that the presence of neuroplastic effects following cTBS is associated with concurrent changes in oscillatory M1 beta activity. M1 cortices were localized with a synthetic aperture magnetometry beamforming analysis of visually cued index finger movements. Virtual electrode analysis was used to reconstruct the spontaneous and movement-related oscillatory activity in bilateral M1 cortices, before and from 10 to 45 min after cTBS. We demonstrate that 40 s of cTBS applied over left M1 reduced corticospinal excitability in the right index finger of 8/16 participants. In these responder participants only, cTBS increased the power of the spontaneous beta oscillations in stimulated M1 and delayed reaction times in the contralateral index finger. No further changes were observed in the latency or power of movement-related beta oscillations. These data provide insights into the electrophysiological mechanisms underlying cTBS-mediated impairment of motor function and demonstrate the association between spontaneous oscillatory beta activity in M1 and the inhibition of motor function.
Animal models of Parkinson’s disease (PD) have shown that key mechanisms of cortical plasticity such as long-term potentiation (LTP) and long-term depression (LTD) can be impaired by the PD pathology. In humans protocols of non-invasive brain stimulation, such as paired associative stimulation (PAS) and theta-burst stimulation (TBS), can be used to investigate cortical plasticity of the primary motor cortex. Through the amplitude of the motor evoked potential these transcranial magnetic stimulation methods allow to measure both LTP-like and LTD-like mechanisms of cortical plasticity. So far these protocols have reported some controversial findings when tested in PD patients. While various studies described evidence for reduced LTP- and LTD-like plasticity, others showed different results, demonstrating increased LTP-like and normal LTD-like plasticity. Recent evidence provided support to the hypothesis that these different patterns of cortical plasticity likely depend on the stage of the disease and on the concomitant administration of l-DOPA. However, it is still unclear how and if these altered mechanisms of cortical plasticity can be taken as a reliable model to build appropriate protocols aimed at treating PD symptoms by applying repetitive sessions of repetitive TMS (rTMS) or transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS). The current article will provide an up-to-date overview of these issues together with some reflections on future studies in the field.
Parkinson disease; transcranial magnetic stimulation; cortical plasticity; LTP and LTD; motor cortex
Animal studies using polarising currents have shown that induction of synaptic long-term potentiation (LTP) and long-term depression (LTD) by bursts of patterned stimulation is affected by the membrane potential of the postsynaptic neurone. The aim of the present experiments was to test whether it is possible to observe similar phenomena in humans with the aim of improving present protocols of inducing synaptic plasticity for therapeutic purposes. We tested whether the LTP/LTD-like after effects of transcranial theta-burst stimulation (TBS) of human motor cortex, an analogue of patterned electrical stimulation in animals, were affected by simultaneous transcranial direct-current stimulation (tDCS), a non-invasive method of polarising cortical neurones in humans. Nine healthy volunteers were investigated in a single-blind, balanced cross-over study; continuous TBS (cTBS) was used to introduce LTD-like after effects, whereas intermittent TBS (iTBS) produced LTP-like effects. Each pattern was coupled with concurrent application of tDCS (<200 s, anodal, cathodal, sham). Cathodal tDCS increased the response to iTBS and abolished the effects of cTBS. Anodal tDCS changed the effects of cTBS towards facilitation, but had no impact on iTBS. Cortical motor thresholds and intracortical inhibitory/facilitatory networks were not altered by any of the stimulation protocols. We conclude that the after effects of TBS can be modulated by concurrent tDCS. We hypothesise that tDCS changes the membrane potential of the apical dendrites of cortical pyramidal neurones and that this changes the response to patterned synaptic input evoked by TBS. The data show that it may be possible to enhance LTP-like plasticity after TBS in the human cortex.
Motor cortex plasticity; Long-term potentiation; Long-term depression; Plasticity regulation
The dysfunction of cholinergic neurons is a typical hallmark in Alzheimer's disease (AD). Previous findings demonstrated that high density of cholinergic receptors is found in the thalamus and the cerebellum compared with the cerebral cortex and the hippocampus. We aimed at investigating whether activation of the cerebello-thalamo-cortical pathway by means of cerebellar theta burst stimulation (TBS) could modulate central cholinergic functions evaluated in vivo by using the neurophysiological determination of Short-Latency Afferent Inhibition (SLAI). We tested the SLAI circuit before and after administration of cerebellar continuous TBS (cTBS) in 12 AD patients and in 12 healthy age-matched control subjects (HS). We also investigated potential changes of intracortical circuits of the contralateral primary motor cortex (M1) by assessing short intracortical inhibition (SICI) and intracortical facilitation (ICF). SLAI was decreased in AD patients compared to HS. Cerebellar cTBS partially restored SLAI in AD patients at later inter-stimulus intervals (ISIs), but did not modify SLAI in HS. SICI and ICF did not differ in the two groups and were not modulated by cerebellar cTBS. These results demonstrate that cerebellar magnetic stimulation is likely to affect mechanisms of cortical cholinergic activity, suggesting that the cerebellum may have a direct influence on the cholinergic dysfunction in AD.
transcranial magnetic stimulation; cortical plasticity; cholinergic; cerebellum; Alzheimer's disease
From all rTMS protocols at present, the theta burst stimulation (TBS) is considered the most efficient in terms of number of impulses and intensity required during a given stimulation. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of inhibitory and excitatory TBS protocols on motor cortex excitability when the duration of stimulation was doubled. Fourteen healthy volunteers were tested under four conditions: intermittent theta bust stimulation (iTBS), continuous theta burst stimulation (cTBS), prolonged intermittent theta bust stimulation (ProiTBS) and prolonged continuous theta burst stimulation (ProcTBS). The prolonged paradigms were twice as long as the conventional TBS protocols. Conventional facilitatory iTBS converted into inhibitory when it was applied for twice as long, while the normally inhibitory cTBS became facilitatory when the stimulation duration was doubled. Our results show that TBS-induced plasticity cannot be deliberately enhanced simply by prolonging TBS protocols. Instead, when stimulating too long, after-effects will be reversed. This finding supplements findings at the short end of the stimulation duration range, where it was shown that conventional cTBS is excitatory in the first half and switches to inhibition only after the full length protocol. It is relevant for clinical applications for which an ongoing need for further protocol improvement is imminent.
rTMS; TBS; Motor cortex; Neuroplasticity; Brain stimulation; Human
Motor recovery after stroke is related to neural plasticity, which involves developing new neuronal interconnections, acquiring new functions, and compensating for impairment. However, neural plasticity is impaired in the stroke-affected hemisphere. Therefore, it is important that motor recovery therapies facilitate neural plasticity to compensate for functional loss. Stroke rehabilitation programs should include meaningful, repetitive, intensive, and task-specific movement training in an enriched environment to promote neural plasticity and motor recovery. Various novel stroke rehabilitation techniques for motor recovery have been developed based on basic science and clinical studies of neural plasticity. However, the effectiveness of rehabilitative interventions among patients with stroke varies widely because the mechanisms underlying motor recovery are heterogeneous. Neurophysiological and neuroimaging studies have been developed to evaluate the heterogeneity of mechanisms underlying motor recovery for effective rehabilitation interventions after stroke. Here, we review novel stroke rehabilitation techniques associated with neural plasticity and discuss individualized strategies to identify appropriate therapeutic goals, prevent maladaptive plasticity, and maximize functional gain in patients with stroke.
Cognition is affected early in Huntington's disease, and in HD animal models there is evidence that this reflects abnormal synaptic plasticity. We investigated whether there is evidence for abnormal synaptic plasticity using the human motor cortex-rTMS model, and if so, if there is any difference between premanifest HD gene carriers and very early manifest HD patients or any relationship with ratings of the severity of motor signs.
Fifteen HD gene carriers (7 premanifest, 8 very early manifest) and 14 control participants were given a continuous train of 100 bursts of theta burst stimulation (cTBS: three pulses at 50 Hz and 80% AMT repeated every 200ms). The size of the motor evoked potential was measured at regular intervals until 21 minutes after cTBS.
HD gene carriers and controls responded differently to theta burst stimulation (F4.9,131.9=1.37, p=0.048) with controls having more inhibition than HD gene carriers (F1,27=13.3, p=0.001). Across all time points mean inhibition differed between the groups (F2,26=6.32, p=0.006); controls had more inhibition than either HD gene carrier subgroup (p=0.006 for premanifest and p=0.009 for early symptomatic) whereas there was no difference between premanifest and early symptomatic HD gene carriers. The measure of cortical plasticity was not associated with any clinical ratings (UHDRS motor score, estimate of age at onset).
Motor cortex plasticity is abnormal in HD gene carriers but is not closely linked to the development of motor signs of HD.
repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation; UHDRS; Huntington's disease; synaptic plasticity; theta burst stimulation
Daily sessions of therapeutic transcranial brain stimulation are thought to prolong or amplify the effect of a single intervention. Here we show in patients with focal hand dystonia that additional, new effects build up progressively over time, making it difficult to predict the effect of long term interventions from shorter treatment sessions. In a sham-controlled study, real or sham continuous theta burst stimulation (cTBS) was given once daily for five consecutive days to dorsolateral premotor cortex (PMd). Five days of real, but not sham, premotor cTBS improved intracortical inhibition in primary motor cortex (M1) to a similar extent on day 1 and day 5. However 5 days of cTBS were required to restore the abnormal PMd-M1 interactions observed on day 1. Similarly, excessive M1 plasticity seen at baseline was also significantly reduced by five days of real premotor cTBS. There was only a marginal benefit on writing. The results show that additional, new effects, at sites distant from the point of stimulation, build up progressively over time, making it difficult to predict the effect of long term interventions from shorter treatment sessions. The results indicate that it may take many days of therapeutic intervention to rebalance activity in a complex network.
Traditionally, benign essential blepharospasm (BEB) is considered a disorder caused by basal ganglia dysfunction. Electrophysiologic and brain imaging studies suggest pathologic changes in excitability in the primary motor cortex (MC), anterior cingulate (AC), and secondary motor areas, such as premotor (PMC) and supplementary motor cortices (SMA).
In this pilot study of 7 patients with BEB, we experimentally reduced cortical excitability of 4 areas: MC (first dorsal interosseus area), PMC, SMA, and AC, each with 3 noninvasive techniques: low-frequency repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (lfrTMS), continuous theta burst stimulation (cTBS), and cathodal transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS). Primary outcome was the clinical effects on blepharospasm (blink rate observation by an investigator blinded to the intervention and subjective rating by the patient); secondary outcome was the blink reflex recovery curve (BRR).
lfrTMS resulted in a significant improvement over all 4 brain areas for physician rating, patient rating, and BRR, whereas cTBS and tDCS showed only trends for improvement in physician rating, but no improvements for patient rating and BRR. lfrTMS had a significantly higher effect over AC than MC for physician rating, but no differences were seen for other pairwise comparisons of stimulated brain areas.
Electrophysiologic and clinical improvements by functional inhibition of the medial frontal areas using low-frequency repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation suggests that hypersensitivity of the anterior cingulate is directly or indirectly involved in the pathophysiology of benign essential blepharospasm. Inhibition of these areas using low-frequency repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation could provide a therapeutic tool and is worthy of a larger study.
= anterior cingulate;
= active motor threshold;
= analysis of variance;
= benign essential blepharospasm;
= basal ganglia;
= blink reflex recovery;
= continuous theta burst stimulation;
= globus pallidus internus;
= low-frequency repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation;
= motor cortex;
= orbicularis oculi;
= premotor cortex;
= resting motor threshold;
= supplementary motor cortex;
= substantia nigra pars reticulata;
= transcranial direct current stimulation.
Continuous theta burst stimulation (cTBS) is a novel transcranial stimulation technique that causes significant inhibition of synaptic transmission for ≤1 h when applied over the primary motor cortex (M1) in humans. Here we use magnetic resonance spectroscopy to define mechanisms mediating this inhibition by noninvasively measuring local changes in the cortical concentrations of γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and glutamate/glutamine (Glx). cTBS to the left M1 led to an increase in GABA compared with stimulation at a control site without significant change in Glx. This direct evidence for increased GABAergic interneuronal activity is framed in terms of a new hypothesis regarding mechanisms underlying cTBS.
Plasticity is a fundamental property of the neural system controlling breathing. One frequently studied model of respiratory plasticity is long-term facilitation of phrenic motor output (pLTF) following acute intermittent hypoxia (AIH). pLTF arises from spinal plasticity, increasing respiratory motor output through a mechanism that requires new synthesis of brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), activation of its high affinity receptor, tropomyosin-related kinase B (TrkB) and extracellular-related kinase (ERK) mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase signaling in or near phrenic motor neurons. Since intermittent hypoxia induces spinal plasticity, we are exploring the potential to harness repetitive AIH as a means of inducing functional recovery in conditions causing respiratory insufficiency, such as cervical spinal injury. Since repetitive AIH induces phenotypic plasticity in respiratory and motor neurons, it may restore respiratory motor function in patients with incomplete spinal injury.
Activity-dependent plasticity as a result of reorganization of neural circuits is a fundamental characteristic of the central nervous system that occurs simultaneously in multiple sites. In this study, we established the effects of subthreshold transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) over the primary motor cortex region on the tibialis anterior (TA) long-latency flexion reflex. Neurophysiological tests were conducted before and after robotic gait training in one person with a motor incomplete spinal cord injury (SCI) while at rest and during robotic-assisted stepping. The TA flexion reflex was evoked following nonnociceptive sural nerve stimulation and was conditioned by TMS at 0.9 TA motor evoked potential resting threshold at conditioning-test intervals that ranged from 70 to 130 ms. Subthreshold TMS induced a significant facilitation on the TA flexion reflex before training, which was reversed to depression after training with the subject seated at rest. During stepping, corticospinal facilitation of the flexion reflex at early and midstance phases before training was replaced with depression at early and midswing followed by facilitation at late swing after training. These results constitute the first neurophysiologic evidence that locomotor training reorganizes the cortical control of spinal interneuronal circuits that generate patterned motor activity, modifying spinal reflex function, in the chronic lesioned human spinal cord.
Continuous theta burst stimulation (cTBS) applied over the primary motor cortex (M1) can alleviate pain although the neural basis of this effect remains largely unknown. Besides, the primary somatosensory cortex (S1) is thought to play a pivotal role in the sensori-discriminative aspects of pain perception but the analgesic effect of cTBS applied over S1 remains controversial. To investigate cTBS-induced analgesia we characterized, in two separate experiments, the effect of cTBS applied either over M1 or S1 on the event-related brain potentials (ERPs) and perception elicited by nociceptive (CO2 laser stimulation) and non-nociceptive (transcutaneous electrical stimulation) somatosensory stimuli. All stimuli were delivered to the ipsilateral and contralateral hand. We found that both cTBS applied over M1 and cTBS applied over S1 significantly reduced the percept elicited by nociceptive stimuli delivered to the contralateral hand as compared to similar stimulation of the ipsilateral hand. In contrast, cTBS did not modulate the perception of non-nociceptive stimuli. Surprisingly, this side-dependent analgesic effect of cTBS was not reflected in the amplitude modulation of nociceptive ERPs. Indeed, both nociceptive (N160, N240 and P360 waves) and late-latency non-nociceptive (N140 and P200 waves) ERPs elicited by stimulation of the contralateral and ipsilateral hands were similarly reduced after cTBS, suggesting an unspecific effect, possibly due to habituation or reduced alertness. In conclusion, cTBS applied over M1 and S1 reduces similarly the perception of nociceptive inputs originating from the contralateral hand, but this analgesic effect is not reflected in the magnitude of nociceptive ERPs.
Most candidate genes and genetic abnormalities linked to autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are thought to play a role in developmental and experience-dependent plasticity. As a possible index of plasticity, we assessed the modulation of motor corticospinal excitability in individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome (AS) using transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). We measured the modulatory effects of Theta Burst Stimulation (TBS) on motor evoked potentials (MEPs) induced by single-pulse TMS in individuals with AS as compared with age-, gender-, and IQ-matched neurotypical controls. The effect of TBS lasted significantly longer in the AS group. The duration of the TBS-induced modulation alone enabled the reliable classification of a second study cohort of subjects as AS or neurotypical. The alteration in the modulation of corticospinal excitability in AS is thought to reflect aberrant mechanisms of plasticity, and might provide a valuable future diagnostic biomarker for the disease and ultimately offer a target for novel therapeutic interventions.
Autism Spectrum Disorders; Theta Burst Stimulation; Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation; Plasticity
Theta-burst stimulation of the stratum radiatum induces a negative shift in the reversal potential (RP) of γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA)-ergic postsynaptic currents (PSCs) in hippocampal CA1 neurons in brain slices from rats of age groups 3–4 day, 6–9 day and 3–4 wk. Furosemide reversed the shift in the RP. The amplitude of the evoked PSC appeared to increase following the theta-burst stimulation but this increase was secondary to the change in the RP. These results indicate that the RP for GABA-ergic PSCs undergoes an activity-dependent plasticity in not only neonatal but also adult neurons presumably through an up-regulation of a K+-Cl− co-transporter. This plasticity can have significant implications for neuronal network activity in the central nervous system. Also, these results indicate that studies on GABA-ergic synaptic efficacy require a careful, parallel monitoring of the RP.
GABA; Reversal potential; Plasticity; Hippocampus; Theta-burst; Postsynaptic currents; K+-Cl− co-transporter
Protons are important signals for neuronal function. In the central nervous system (CNS), proton concentrations change locally when synaptic vesicles release their acidic contents into the synaptic cleft, and globally in ischemia, seizures, traumatic brain injury, and other neurological disorders due to lactic acid accumulation. The finding that protons gate a distinct family of ion channels, the acid-sensing ion channels (ASICs), has shed new light on the mechanism of acid signaling and acidosis-associated neuronal injury. Accumulating evidence has suggested that ASICs play important roles in physiological processes such as synaptic plasticity, learning/memory, fear conditioning, and retinal integrity, and in pathological conditions such as brain ischemia, multiple sclerosis, epileptic seizures, and malignant glioma. Thus, targeting these channels may lead to novel therapeutic interventions for neurological disorders. The goal of this review is to provide an update on recent advances in our understanding of the functions of ASICs in the CNS.
Acid-sensing ion channel; acidosis; CNS; neuron; function; neurological disease
The child’s brain is more malleable or plastic than that of adults and this accounts for the ability of children to learn new skills quickly or recovery from brain injuries. Several mechanisms contribute to this ability including overproduction and deletion of neurons and synapses, and activity-dependent stabilization of synapses. The molecular mechanisms for activity dependent synaptic plasticity are being discovered and this is leading to a better understanding of the pathogenesis of several disorders including neurofibromatosis, tuberous sclerosis, Fragile X syndrome and Rett syndrome. Many of the same pathways involved in synaptic plasticity, such as glutamate-mediated excitation, can also mediate brain injury when the brain is exposed to stress or energy failure such as hypoxia-ischemia. Recent evidence indicates that cell death pathways activated by injury differ between males and females. This new information about the molecular pathways involved in brain plasticity and injury are leading to insights that will provide better therapies for pediatric neurological disorders.
Plasticity; Injury; Fragile X Syndrome; Rett Syndrome; Hypoxia-Ischemia; NMDA; AMPA; Periventricular Leukomalacia
The output of a neural circuit results from an interaction between the intrinsic properties of neurons within the circuit and the features of the synaptic connections between them. The plasticity of intrinsic properties has been primarily attributed to modification of ion channel function and/or number. In this study, we demonstrate a mechanism for intrinsic plasticity in rhythmically active Drosophila neurons that is not conductance-based. Larval motor neurons show a long lasting sodium-dependent afterhyperpolarization (AHP) following bursts of action potentials that is mediated by the electrogenic activity of Na+/K+ ATPase. This AHP persists for multiple seconds following volleys of action potentials and is able to function as a pattern-insensitive integrator of spike number that is independent of external calcium. This current also interacts with endogenous Shal K+ conductances to modulate spike timing for multiple seconds following rhythmic activity, providing a cellular memory of network activity on a behaviorally relevant time scale.
Na+/K+ ATPase; after-hyperpolarization; neuronal plasticity; spike counter; central pattern generators; rhythmic network
Brain injury affecting the frontal motor cortex or its descending axons often causes contralateral upper extremity paresis. Although recovery is variable, the underlying mechanisms supporting favorable motor recovery remain unclear. Since the medial wall of the cerebral hemisphere is often spared following brain injury and recent functional neuroimaging studies in patients indicate a potential role for this brain region in the recovery process, we investigated the long-term effects of isolated lateral frontal motor cortical injury on the corticospinal projection (CSP) from intact, ipsilesional supplementary motor cortex (M2). Following injury to the arm region of the primary motor (M1) and lateral premotor (LPMC) cortices, upper extremity recovery is accompanied by terminal axon plasticity in the contralateral CSP but not the ipsilateral CSP from M2. Furthermore, significant contralateral plasticity occurs only in lamina VII and dorsally within lamina IX. Thus, selective intraspinal sprouting transpires in regions containing interneurons, flexor-related motor neurons and motor neurons supplying intrinsic hand muscles which all play important roles in mediating reaching and digit movements. Following recovery, subsequent injury of M2 leads to reemergence of hand motor deficits. Considering the importance of the CSP in humans and the common occurrence of lateral frontal cortex injury, these findings suggest that spared supplementary motor cortex may serve as an important therapeutic target that should be considered when designing acute and long-term post-injury patient intervention strategies aimed to enhance the motor recovery process following lateral cortical trauma.
Pyramidal Tract; Frontal Lobe; Corticofugal; Neurosurgical Resection; Plasticity; Spinal Cord
The prefrontostriatal network is considered to play a key role in executive functions. Previous neuroimaging studies have shown that executive processes tested with card-sorting tasks requiring planning and set-shifting [e.g. Montreal-card-sorting-task (MCST)] may engage the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) while inducing dopamine release in the striatum. However, functional imaging studies can only provide neuronal correlates of cognitive performance and cannot establish a causal relation between observed brain activity and task performance. In order to investigate the contribution of the DLPFC during set-shifting and its effect on the striatal dopaminergic system, we applied continuous theta burst stimulation (cTBS) to left and right DLPFC. Our aim was to transiently disrupt its function and to measure MCST performance and striatal dopamine release during [11C]raclopride PET. A significant hemispheric asymmetry was observed. cTBS of the left DLPFC impaired MCST performance and dopamine release in the ipsilateral caudate–anterior putamen and contralateral caudate nucleus, as compared to cTBS of the vertex (control). These effects appeared to be limited only to left DLPFC stimulation while right DLPFC stimulation did not influence task performance or [11C]raclopride binding potential in the striatum. This is the first study showing that cTBS, by disrupting left prefrontal function, may indirectly affect striatal dopamine neurotransmission during performance of executive tasks. This cTBS-induced regional prefrontal effect and modulation of the frontostriatal network may be important for understanding the contribution of hemisphere laterality and its neural bases with regard to executive functions, as well as for revealing the neurochemical substrate underlying cognitive deficits.
PMID: 19046396 CAMSID: cams1540
basal ganglia; executive function; positron emission tomography; transcranial magnetic stimulation
Cortical excitability changes as well as imbalances in excitatory and inhibitory circuits play a distinct pathophysiological role in chronic tinnitus. Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) over the temporoparietal cortex was recently introduced to modulate tinnitus perception. In the current study, the effect of theta-burst stimulation (TBS), a novel rTMS paradigm was investigated in chronic tinnitus. Twenty patients with chronic tinnitus completed the study. Tinnitus severity and loudness were monitored using a tinnitus questionnaire (TQ) and a visual analogue scale (VAS) before each session. Patients received 600 pulses of continuous TBS (cTBS), intermittent TBS (iTBS) and intermediate TBS (imTBS) over left inferior temporal cortex with an intensity of 80% of the individual active or resting motor threshold. Changes in subjective tinnitus perception were measured with a numerical rating scale (NRS).
TBS applied to inferior temporal cortex appeared to be safe. Although half of the patients reported a slight attenuation of tinnitus perception, group analysis resulted in no significant difference when comparing the three specific types of TBS. Converting the NRS into the VAS allowed us to compare the time-course of aftereffects. Only cTBS resulted in a significant short-lasting improvement of the symptoms. In addition there was no significant difference when comparing the responder and non-responder groups regarding their anamnestic and audiological data. The TQ score correlated significantly with the VAS, lower loudness indicating less tinnitus distress.
TBS does not offer a promising outcome for patients with tinnitus in the presented study.
The cortical visuomotor grasping circuit, comprising the anterior intraparietal area (AIP), ventral premotor (PMv), and primary motor cortex (M1) allows transformation of an object's physical properties into a suitable motor command for grasp [1–9]. However, little is known about how AIP contributes to the processing of grasp-related information conveyed through the cortical grasping circuit. We addressed this by studying the consequences of AIP “virtual lesions” on physiological interactions between PMv and M1 at rest or during preparation to grasp objects with either a precision grip or a whole-hand grasp. We used a conditioning-test transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) paradigm to test how PMv-M1 interactions [10–12] were modified by disrupting AIP function with theta-burst TMS (cTBS) . At rest, AIP virtual lesions did not modify PMv-M1 interactions. In contrast, the usual muscle-specific PMv-M1 interactions that appeared during grasp preparation were significantly reduced following AIP cTBS without directly modifying corticospinal excitability. Behaviorally, disruption of AIP was also associated with a relative loss of the grasp-specific pattern of digit muscle activity. These findings suggest that grasp-related and muscle-specific PMv-M1 interactions are driven by information about object properties provided by AIP.
► Interactions between PMv and M1 are grasp specific ► AIP virtual lesions reduce grasp-related PMv-M1 interactions ► Changes in PMv-M1 connectivity affect hand muscle selectivity during grasp
Learning interference occurs when learning something new causes forgetting of an older memory (retrograde interference) or when learning a new task disrupts learning of a second subsequent task (anterograde interference). This phenomenon, described in cognitive, sensory and motor domains, limits our ability to learn multiple tasks in close succession. It has been suggested that the source of interference is competition of neural resources, although the neuronal mechanisms are unknown. Learning induces long-term potentiation (LTP) that can ultimately limit the ability to induce further LTP, a phenomenon known as occlusion. In humans we quantified the magnitude of occlusion of anodal transcranial direct current stimulation (A-tDCS)-induced increased excitability after learning a skill task as an index of the amount of LTP-like plasticity used. We found that retention of a newly acquired skill, as reflected by performance in the second day of practice, is proportional to the magnitude of occlusion. Moreover, the degree of behavioral interference was correlated with the magnitude of occlusion. Individuals with larger occlusion after learning the first skill were (1) more resilient to retrograde interference and (2) experienced larger anterograde interference when training a second task, as expressed by decreased performance of the learned skill in the second day of practice. This effect was not observed if sufficient time elapsed between training the 2 skills and LTP-like occlusion was not present. These findings suggest competition of LTP-like plasticity is a factor that limits the ability to remember multiple tasks trained in close succession.