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1.  Long Lasting Modulation of Cortical Oscillations after Continuous Theta Burst Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(4):e35080.
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.
PMCID: PMC3319628  PMID: 22496893
2.  Reproducibility of the effects of theta burst stimulation on motor cortical plasticity in healthy participants 
Theta-burst stimulation (TBS) is a repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) protocol, capable of enhancing or suppressing the amplitude of contralateral motor-evoked potentials (MEP) for several minutes after stimulation over the primary motor cortex. Continuous TBS (cTBS) produces a long-term depression (LTD)-like reduction of cortical excitability. The purpose of this study was to assess the test–retest reproducibility of the effects of cTBS and to investigate which neurophysiologic markers of cTBS-induced plasticity are most reproducible.
In ten healthy participants we evaluated in two different sessions the effects of cTBS (using AP–PA current direction, opposite to most commercial rTMS stimulators) on MEPs induced by single-pulse suprathreshold TMS (using AP–PA or PA current direction) over left motor cortex in the first dorsal inter-osseus (FDI) muscle.
Results demonstrate that the marker of cTBS induced-plasticity with highest within-subject reproducibility is the modulation of corticospinal excitability measured 5 min after cTBS.
Overall the effects of cTBS modulation show limited test–retest reproducibility and some measures of the cTBS effects are more reproducible than others.
Studies comparing cTBS effects in healthy subjects and patients need to proceed with care. Further characterization of the effects of TBS and identification of the best metrics warrant future studies.
PMCID: PMC4169192  PMID: 23932365
Transcranial magnetic stimulation; Primary motor cortex; Variability; Neurophysiological markers
3.  Changes in Cortical Plasticity Across the Lifespan 
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.
PMCID: PMC3079175  PMID: 21519394
cortical plasticity; aging; motor cortex; transcranial magnetic stimulation; continuous theta-burst stimulation; long-term depression
4.  Restoration of motor inhibition through an abnormal premotor-motor connection in dystonia 
To clarify the rationale for using rTMS of dorsal premotor cortex (PMd) to treat dystonia, we examined how the motor system reacts to an inhibitory form of rTMS applied to the PMd in healthy subjects and in a group of patients with focal hand dystonia and DYT1 gene carriers. Continuous theta burst transcranial magnetic stimulation (cTBS) with 300 and 600 pulses (cTBS300 and cTBS600) was applied to PMd and its after-effects were quantified by measuring the amplitude of MEPs evoked by single pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) over the primary motor cortex (M1), short interval intracortical inhibition/facilitation (SICI/ICF) within M1, the third phase of spinal reciprocal inhibition (RI) and writing tests. In addition, in DYT1 gene carriers, the effects of cTBS300 over M1 and PMd on MEPs were studied in separate experiments. In healthy subjects cTBS300 and cTBS600 over PMd suppressed MEPs for 30min or more and cTBS600 decreased SICI and RI. In contrast, neither form of cTBS over PMd had any significant effect on MEPs, while cTBS600 increased effectiveness of SICI and RI and improved writing in patients with writer's cramp. NMDYT1 had a normal response to cTBS300 over left PMd. We suggest that the reduced PMd to M1 interaction in dystonic patients is likely to be due to reduced excitability of PMd-M1 connections. The possible therapeutic effects of premotor rTMS may therefore involve indirect effects of PMd on SICI and RI, which this study has shown can be normalised by cTBS.
PMCID: PMC3000921  PMID: 20309999
Premotor; rTMS; dystonia; theta burst; TBS
5.  Excitatory and inhibitory corticospinal responses to transcranial magnetic stimulation in patients with minor to moderate head injury 
OBJECTIVES—The changes in excitatory and inhibitory responses to transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), as attested by motor evoked potential (MEP) and silent period (SP) parameters, were compared in patients who sustained minor to moderate head injury.
METHODS—A total of 38 patients with brain concussion, and diffuse, focal, and combined brain injury and 20 healthy volunteers were examined. The MEPs and SPs were recorded from the abductor pollicis brevis muscle after single pulse TMS 2 weeks after head trauma. The parameters assessed were the MEP resting threshold, the MEP/M wave amplitude ratio, the central motor conduction time (CMCT), the SP threshold, the interthreshold difference (ITD), and the SP duration (SPD).
RESULTS—The main finding was an increase in the ITD in patients with mild and moderate head injury due to the relatively greater augmentation of the MEP threshold. This was associated with a reduction of the MEP/M wave amplitude ratio. The degree of MEP and SP changes depended on severity of head injury and was not related to the type of brain lesions. The SPD did not differ significantly in brain concussion, or diffuse, focal and combined brain injury groups compared with the control group. The CMCT was prolonged in patients with diffuse and combined brain lesions. Among subjective complaints only fatigue was significantly related to ITD, MEP, and SP threshold abnormalities.
CONCLUSIONS—The results suggest that mechanisms involved in MEP and SP generation are differently affected in head injury, the first being impaired more severely. The increase of the ITD accompanied by reduction of the MEP/M wave amplitude ratio may reflect a dissociated impairment of inhibitory and excitatory components of central motor control in head trauma.

PMCID: PMC1737339  PMID: 11309450
6.  Area 5 Influences Excitability within the Primary Motor Cortex in Humans 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(5):e20023.
In non-human primates, Brodmann's area 5 (BA 5) has direct connectivity with primary motor cortex (M1), is largely dedicated to the representation of the hand and may have evolved with the ability to perform skilled hand movement. Less is known about human BA 5 and its interaction with M1 neural circuits related to hand control. The present study examines the influence of BA 5 on excitatory and inhibitory neural circuitry within M1 bilaterally before and after continuous (cTBS), intermittent (iTBS), and sham theta-burst stimulation (sham TBS) over left hemisphere BA 5. Using single and paired-pulse TMS, measurements of motor evoked potentials (MEPs), short interval intracortical inhibition (SICI), and intracortical facilitation (ICF) were quantified for the representation of the first dorsal interosseous muscle. Results indicate that cTBS over BA 5 influences M1 excitability such that MEP amplitudes are increased bilaterally for up to one hour. ITBS over BA 5 results in an increase in MEP amplitude contralateral to stimulation with a delayed onset that persists up to one hour. SICI and ICF were unaltered following TBS over BA 5. Similarly, F-wave amplitude and latency were unaltered following cTBS over BA 5. The data suggest that BA 5 alters M1 output directed to the hand by influencing corticospinal neurons and not interneurons that mediate SICI or ICF circuitry. Targeting BA 5 via cTBS and iTBS is a novel mechanism to powerfully modulate activity within M1 and may provide an avenue for investigating hand control in healthy populations and modifying impaired hand function in clinical populations.
PMCID: PMC3095637  PMID: 21603571
7.  Insights on the neural basis of motor plasticity induced by theta burst stimulation from TMS-EEG 
Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a useful tool to induce and measure plasticity in the human brain. However, the cortical effects are generally indirectly evaluated with motor-evoked potentials (MEPs) reflective of modulation of cortico-spinal excitability. In this study, we aim to provide direct measures of cortical plasticity by combining TMS with electroencephalography (EEG).
Continuous theta-burst stimulation (cTBS) was applied over the primary motor cortex (M1) of young healthy adults; and we measured modulation of (i) motor evoked-potentials (MEPs), (ii) TMS-induced EEG evoked potentials (TEPs), (iii) TMS-induced EEG synchronization and (iv) eyes-closed resting EEG.
Our results show the expected cTBS-induced decrease in MEPs size, which we found to be paralleled by a modulation of a combination of TEPs. Furthermore, we found that cTBS increased the power in the theta band of eyes-closed resting EEG, whereas it decreased single-pulse TMS-induced power in the theta and alpha bands. In addition, cTBS decreased the power in the beta band of eyes-closed resting EEG, whereas it increased single-pulse TMS-induced power in the beta band.
We suggest that cTBS acts by modulating the phase alignment between already active oscillators; it synchronizes low frequency (theta and/or alpha) oscillators and desynchronizes high frequency (beta) oscillators. These results provide novel insights into the cortical effects of cTBS and could be useful for exploring cTBS-induced plasticity outside of the motor cortex.
PMCID: PMC4191847  PMID: 23190020
Cortico-spinal excitability; cTBS; TMS-evoked potentials; oscillations
8.  Modulation of the Disturbed Motor Network in Dystonia by Multisession Suppression of Premotor Cortex 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e47574.
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.
PMCID: PMC3468590  PMID: 23071824
9.  Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor – A Major Player in Stimulation-Induced Homeostatic Metaplasticity of Human Motor Cortex? 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e57957.
Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) of the human motor hand area (M1HAND) can induce lasting changes in corticospinal excitability as indexed by a change in amplitude of the motor-evoked potential. The plasticity-inducing effects of rTMS in M1HAND show substantial inter-individual variability which has been partially attributed to the val66met polymorphism in the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) gene. Here we used theta burst stimulation (TBS) to examine whether the BDNF val66met genotype can be used to predict the expression of TBS-induced homeostatic metaplasticity in human M1HAND. TBS is a patterned rTMS protocol with intermittent TBS (iTBS) usually inducing a lasting increase and continuous TBS (cTBS) a lasting decrease in corticospinal excitability. In three separate sessions, healthy val66met (n = 12) and val66val (n = 17) carriers received neuronavigated cTBS followed by cTBS (n = 27), cTBS followed by iTBS (n = 29), and iTBS followed by iTBS (n = 28). Participants and examiner were blinded to the genotype at the time of examination. As expected, the first TBS intervention induced a decrease (cTBS) and increase (iTBS) in corticospinal excitability, respectively, at the same time priming the after effects caused by the second TBS intervention in a homeostatic fashion. Critically, val66met carriers and val66val carriers showed very similar response patterns to cTBS and iTBS regardless of the order of TBS interventions. Since none of the observed TBS effects was modulated by the BDNF val66met polymorphism, our results do not support the notion that the BDNF val66met genotype is a major player with regard to TBS-induced plasticity and metaplasticity in the human M1HAND.
PMCID: PMC3585283  PMID: 23469118
10.  Direct-current-dependent shift of theta-burst-induced plasticity in the human 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.
PMCID: PMC3279644  PMID: 22143872
Motor cortex plasticity; Long-term potentiation; Long-term depression; Plasticity regulation
11.  D2 Receptor Block Abolishes Theta Burst Stimulation-Induced Neuroplasticity in the Human Motor Cortex 
Neuropsychopharmacology  2011;36(10):2097-2102.
Dopamine (DA) is a neurotransmitter with an important influence on learning and memory, which is thought to be due to its modulatory effect on plasticity at central synapses, which in turn depends on activation of D1 and D2 receptors. Methods of brain stimulation (transcranial direct current stimulation, tDCS; paired associative stimulation, PAS) lead to after-effects on cortical excitability that are thought to resemble long-term potentization (LTP)/long-term depression (LTD) in reduced preparations. In a previous study we found that block of D2 receptors abolished plasticity induced by tDCS but had no effect on the facilitatory plasticity induced by PAS. We postulated that the different effect of D2 receptor block on tDCS- and PAS-induced plasticity may be due to the different focality and associativity of the stimulation techniques. However, alternative explanations for this difference could not be ruled out. tDCS also differs from PAS in other aspects, as tDCS induces plasticity by subthreshold neuronal activation, modulating spontaneous activity, whereas PAS induces plasticity via phasic suprathreshold stimulation. The present study in 12 volunteers examined effects of D2 receptor blockade (sulpiride (SULP) 400 mg), on the LTP/LTD-like effects of theta burst transcranial magnetic stimulation (TBS), which has less restricted effects on cortical synapses than that of PAS, and does not induce associative plasticity, similar to tDCS, but on the other hand induces cortical excitability shifts by suprathreshold (rhythmic) activation of cortical neurons similarly to PAS. Administration of SULP blocked both the excitatory and inhibitory effects of intermittent (iTBS) and continuous TBS (cTBS), respectively. As the reduced response to TBS following SULP resembles its effect on tDCS, the results support an effect of DA on plasticity, which might be related to the focality and associativity of the plasticity induced.
PMCID: PMC3158306  PMID: 21697824
dopamine receptor; sulpiride; plasticity; motor cortex; transcranial magnetic stimulation; theta burst stimulation; dopamine; neuropharmacology; plasticity; clinical pharmacology/clinical trials; dopamine receptor; sulpiride; motor cortex; transcranial magnetic stimulation; theta burst stimulation
12.  Discrimination of speech and non-speech sounds following theta-burst stimulation of the motor cortex 
Perceiving speech engages parts of the motor system involved in speech production. The role of the motor cortex in speech perception has been demonstrated using low-frequency repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) to suppress motor excitability in the lip representation and disrupt discrimination of lip-articulated speech sounds (Möttönen and Watkins, 2009). Another form of rTMS, continuous theta-burst stimulation (cTBS), can produce longer-lasting disruptive effects following a brief train of stimulation. We investigated the effects of cTBS on motor excitability and discrimination of speech and non-speech sounds. cTBS was applied for 40 s over either the hand or the lip representation of motor cortex. Motor-evoked potentials recorded from the lip and hand muscles in response to single pulses of TMS revealed no measurable change in motor excitability due to cTBS. This failure to replicate previous findings may reflect the unreliability of measurements of motor excitability related to inter-individual variability. We also measured the effects of cTBS on a listener’s ability to discriminate: (1) lip-articulated speech sounds from sounds not articulated by the lips (“ba” vs. “da”); (2) two speech sounds not articulated by the lips (“ga” vs. “da”); and (3) non-speech sounds produced by the hands (“claps” vs. “clicks”). Discrimination of lip-articulated speech sounds was impaired between 20 and 35 min after cTBS over the lip motor representation. Specifically, discrimination of across-category ba–da sounds presented with an 800-ms inter-stimulus interval was reduced to chance level performance. This effect was absent for speech sounds that do not require the lips for articulation and non-speech sounds. Stimulation over the hand motor representation did not affect discrimination of speech or non-speech sounds. These findings show that stimulation of the lip motor representation disrupts discrimination of speech sounds in an articulatory feature-specific way.
PMCID: PMC4097947  PMID: 25076928
continuous theta-burst stimulation (cTBS); transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS); primary motor cortex; auditory discrimination; sensorimotor; categorical perception
13.  Different effects of tetanic stimulation of facial nerve and ulnar nerve on transcranial electrical stimulation motor-evoked potentials 
Objective: Our objective was to examine whether prior tetanic stimulation of cranial nerves enhances the amplitudes of transcranial motor-evoked potentials (MEPs). Methods: Thirty patients undergoing elective craniotomy under propofol-fentanyl anesthesia with partial neuromuscular blockade were enrolled. Both control and posttetanic MEPs (c-MEPs and p-MEPs) monitoring were performed with a train of five pulses delivered to C3 or C4. c-MEPs were recorded from target muscles and p-MEPs were obtained 1 s after tetanic stimulation to the ulnar nerves and facial nerves. The amplitudes of paired MEPs were compared with Wilcoxon’s signed rank test. Results: When tetanic stimulation was separately applied to the facial nerves, amplitudes of p-MEPs from abductor pollicis brevis, orbicularis oculi or oris were similar with those of c-MEPs. When tetanic stimulations were separately applied to the ulnar nerves, the amplitudes of p-MEPs from the abductor pollicis brevis but not orbicularis oculi or oris were significantly enlarged compared with c-MEP. Conclusions: We found that only prior tetanic stimulation of ulnar nerve but not facial nerve could enlarge the amplitudes of trancranial hand MEPs. Augmentation of MEP amplitude via prior tetanic stimulation of peripheral nerve seems to originate from the subcortical level but not motor cortex.
PMCID: PMC3992401  PMID: 24753756
Motor-evoked potentials; tetanic stimulation; ulnar nerve; facial nerve; abductor pollicis brevis; orbicularis oculi; orbicularis oris
14.  Rapid and Scalable Plant-based Production of a Cholera Toxin B Subunit Variant to Aid in Mass Vaccination against Cholera Outbreaks 
Cholera toxin B subunit (CTB) is a component of an internationally licensed oral cholera vaccine. The protein induces neutralizing antibodies against the holotoxin, the virulence factor responsible for severe diarrhea. A field clinical trial has suggested that the addition of CTB to killed whole-cell bacteria provides superior short-term protection to whole-cell-only vaccines; however, challenges in CTB biomanufacturing (i.e., cost and scale) hamper its implementation to mass vaccination in developing countries. To provide a potential solution to this issue, we developed a rapid, robust, and scalable CTB production system in plants.
Methodology/Principal Findings
In a preliminary study of expressing original CTB in transgenic Nicotiana benthamiana, the protein was N-glycosylated with plant-specific glycans. Thus, an aglycosylated CTB variant (pCTB) was created and overexpressed via a plant virus vector. Upon additional transgene engineering for retention in the endoplasmic reticulum and optimization of a secretory signal, the yield of pCTB was dramatically improved, reaching >1 g per kg of fresh leaf material. The protein was efficiently purified by simple two-step chromatography. The GM1-ganglioside binding capacity and conformational stability of pCTB were virtually identical to the bacteria-derived original B subunit, as demonstrated in competitive enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, surface plasmon resonance, and fluorescence-based thermal shift assay. Mammalian cell surface-binding was corroborated by immunofluorescence and flow cytometry. pCTB exhibited strong oral immunogenicity in mice, inducing significant levels of CTB-specific intestinal antibodies that persisted over 6 months. Moreover, these antibodies effectively neutralized the cholera holotoxin in vitro.
Taken together, these results demonstrated that pCTB has robust producibility in Nicotiana plants and retains most, if not all, of major biological activities of the original protein. This rapid and easily scalable system may enable the implementation of pCTB to mass vaccination against outbreaks, thereby providing better protection of high-risk populations in developing countries.
Author Summary
Cholera sporadically causes outbreaks in regions where safe water supply and sanitation systems are not sufficient. As currently available vaccines are only effective for 2 to 3 years, reactive mass vaccination has been proposed to reduce mortality during outbreaks. Cholera toxin B subunit (CTB), when combined with killed whole-cell bacteria, has been shown to provide superior short-term protection, but manufacturing challenges of the protein limit its availability for mass vaccination programs in developing countries. Our work presented herein developed a rapid, robust, and scalable bioproduction system in plants for a CTB variant, pCTB. The system allowed for the accumulation of pCTB at >1 g per kg of fresh leaf of tobacco-related plants within 5 days, which accounts for over 1000 doses of original CTB included in the World Health Organization-prequalified vaccine Dukoral. We further analyzed in depth the integrity of pCTB using a series of biochemical, biophysical, and immunological experiments, demonstrating that the plant-made protein is feasible as a cholera vaccine antigen. Thus, pCTB plus killed bacteria may be ideal for reactive vaccination against cholera outbreaks.
PMCID: PMC3591335  PMID: 23505583
15.  Modulation of EEG Functional Connectivity Networks in Subjects Undergoing Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation 
Brain topography  2013;27(1):172-191.
Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a noninvasive brain stimulation technique that utilizes magnetic fluxes to alter cortical activity. Continuous theta-burst repetitive TMS (cTBS) results in long-lasting decreases in indices of cortical excitability, and alterations in performance of behavioral tasks. We investigated the effects of cTBS on cortical function via functional connectivity and graph theoretical analysis of EEG data. Thirty-one channel resting-state EEG recordings were obtained before and after 40 s of cTBS stimulation to the left primary motor cortex. Functional connectivity between nodes was assessed in multiple frequency bands using lagged max-covariance, and subsequently thresholded to construct undirected graphs. After cTBS, we find widespread decreases in functional connectivity in the alpha band. There are also simultaneous increases in functional connectivity in the high-beta bands, especially amongst anterior and interhemispheric connections. The analysis of the undirected graphs reveals that interhemispheric and interregional connections are more likely to be modulated after cTBS than local connections. There is also a shift in the topology of network connectivity, with an increase in the clustering coefficient after cTBS in the beta bands, and a decrease in clustering and increase in path length in the alpha band, with the alpha-band connectivity primarily decreased near the site of stimulation. cTBS produces widespread alterations in cortical functional connectivity, with resulting shifts in cortical network topology.
PMCID: PMC4026010  PMID: 23471637
TMS; EEG; Resting state; Networks; Functional connectivity; Graph theory
16.  Continuous theta-burst stimulation modulates tactile synchronization 
BMC Neuroscience  2013;14:89.
Temporal order judgement (TOJ) is the ability to detect the order of occurrence of two sequentially delivered stimuli. Previous research has shown that TOJ in the presence of synchronized periodic conditioning stimuli impairs TOJ performance, and this phenomenon is suggested to be mediated by GABAergic interneurons that cause perceptual binding across the two skin sites. Application of continuous theta-burst repetitive TMS (cTBS) over primary somatosensory cortex (SI) alters temporal and spatial tactile perception. The purpose of this study was to examine TOJ perception in the presence and absence of synchronized periodic conditioning stimuli before and after cTBS applied over left-hemisphere SI. A TOJ task was administered on the right index and middle finger (D2 and D3) in two separate sessions in the presence and absence of conditioning stimuli (a background low amplitude sinusoidal vibration).
CTBS reduced the impact of the conditioning stimuli on TOJ performance for up to 18 minutes following stimulation while sham cTBS did not affect TOJ performance. In contrast, the TOJ task performed in the absence of synchronized conditioning stimulation was unaltered following cTBS.
We conclude that cTBS suppresses inhibitory networks in SI that mediate perceptual binding during TOJ synchronization. CTBS offers one method to suppress cortical excitability in the cortex and potentially benefit clinical populations with altered inhibitory cortical circuits. Additionally, TOJ measures with conditioning stimuli may provide an avenue to assess sensory processing in neurologically impaired patient populations.
PMCID: PMC3844444  PMID: 23968301
Temporal order judgment; Continuous theta-burst TMS; Synchronization effect; Cortical Metrics device; Primary somatosensory cortex; Tactile perception
17.  Theta Burst Stimulation Applied over Primary Motor and Somatosensory Cortices Produces Analgesia Unrelated to the Changes in Nociceptive Event-Related Potentials 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e73263.
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.
PMCID: PMC3748010  PMID: 23977382
18.  Reduction of Continuous Theta Burst Stimulation-Induced Motor Plasticity in Healthy Elderly With COMT Val158Met Polymorphism 
Annals of Rehabilitation Medicine  2014;38(5):658-664.
To delineate whether cortical plasticity induced by continuous theta burst stimulation (cTBS) differed according to catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) gene polymorphism in healthy older adults.
Eighteen healthy older volunteers (mean age 73.78±5.04; 12 females and 6 males) were recruited. Volunteers randomly assigned in either a sham-first or real cTBS first group participated in two separate TMS visits with at least a 2-day wash-out period. Genotyping was carried out at baseline by a separate researcher who was blinded. cTBS was delivered in a hot spot over M1 at an active motor threshold of 80%. Motor evoked potentials (MEPs) were obtained at 120% of the resting motor threshold before and after sham/cTBS.
The relative MEP to baseline was significantly decreased 0 and 10 minutes post-stimulation and increased 40 minutes post-stimulation, as compared with the sham condition. Immediately after cTBS, the Val/Val group had a significantly reduced relative MEP value, as compared with the MET carrier group.
In healthy older persons, cTBS-induced motor plasticity was reduced in the COMT Val/Val group as compared with the 158Met carrier group.
PMCID: PMC4221394  PMID: 25379495
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation; Catechol-O-methyltransferase; Neuronal plasticity; Genetic polymorphism; Motor cortex
19.  Cerebellar theta burst stimulation modulates short latency afferent inhibition in Alzheimer's disease patients 
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.
PMCID: PMC3575596  PMID: 23423358
transcranial magnetic stimulation; cortical plasticity; cholinergic; cerebellum; Alzheimer's disease
20.  Differing effects of intracortical circuits on plasticity 
Practice of a motor task leads to an increase in amplitude of motor-evoked potentials (MEP) in the exercised muscle. This is termed practice-dependent plasticity, and is abolished by the NMDA antagonist dextromethorphan and the GABAA agonist lorazepam. Here, we sought to determine whether specific subtypes of GABAA circuits are responsible for this effect on MEPs by comparing the action of the non-selective agonist, lorazepam with that of the selective GABAA-alpha1 receptor agonist, zolpidem. In 7 healthy subjects, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) was used to quantify changes in amplitude of motor-evoked potentials (MEP) after practice of a ballistic motor task. In addition we measured how the same drugs affected the excitability of a number of MEP amplitudes and cortical inhibitory circuits (short-interval intracortical inhibition (SICI), short-interval afferent inhibition (SAI) and long-interval intracortical inhibition (LICI)). This allowed us to explore correlations between drug effects on measures of cortical excitability and practice dependent plasticity of MEPs.
As previously reported, lorazepam increased SICI and decreased SAI, while zolpidem only decreased SAI. The new findings were that practice-dependent plasticity of MEPs was impaired by lorazepam but not zolpidem, and that this was negatively correlated with lorazepam-induced changes in SICI but not SAI. This suggests that the intracortical circuits involved in SICI (and not neurons expressing GABAA-alpha1 receptor subunits that are implicated in SAI) may be involved in controlling the amount of practice-dependent MEP plasticity.
PMCID: PMC3019102  PMID: 19048237
plasticity; motor cortex; transcranial magnetic stimulation; GABA; SICI
21.  Simply longer is not better: reversal of theta burst after-effect with prolonged stimulation 
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.
PMCID: PMC2892066  PMID: 20567808
rTMS; TBS; Motor cortex; Neuroplasticity; Brain stimulation; Human
22.  Evaluation of corticospinal excitability in cervical myelopathy, before and after surgery, with transcranial magnetic stimulation: a pilot study 
European Spine Journal  2012;22(1):189-196.
A pilot study to examine the impact of cervical myelopathy on corticospinal excitability, using transcranial magnetic stimulation, and to investigate whether motor evoked potential (MEP) and silent period (SP) recruitment curve (RC) parameters can detect changes in corticospinal function pre- and post-surgery.
We studied six cervical myelopathy patients undergoing surgery and six healthy controls. Clinical and functional scores and neurophysiological parameters were examined prior to and 3 months following the surgery.
MEP latencies for abductor pollicis brevis (APB) and tibialis anterior (TA) muscles and central motor conduction time were prolonged pre- and post-surgery; SP durations were differentially altered. There were significant differences in parameters of RCs for (1) MEP area in APB (max values, S50) and TA (slope) between controls and patients pre- and post-surgery and (2) SP duration in APB (max values) between patients pre-surgery and controls.
The findings of this pilot study suggest an uncoupling of excitatory and inhibitory pathways, which persists at 3 months following cord decompression. RCs for MEP and SP at 3 months provide more information on the functional status of the cord and prompts for a longer term follow-up.
PMCID: PMC3540307  PMID: 23132280
Myelopathy; Transcranial magnetic stimulation; Motor evoked potential; Cortical silent period; Recruitment curves
23.  Fatigue and activity dependent changes in axonal excitability in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis 
While patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) may complain of fatigue, the underlying mechanisms appear complex, with dysfunction of central and peripheral nervous systems independently reported as contributing factors. The aim of the present study was to further delineate the mechanisms underlying increased fatigability in ALS by measuring activity dependent changes in axonal excitability following a maximum voluntary contraction (MVC).
Nerve excitability changes were recorded before and after an MVC of the abductor pollicis brevis in 16 patients with ALS and 25 controls.
In patients with ALS, there was a greater increase in threshold (36.5 (5.9)%; controls 19.6 (3.5)%; p<0.05) as a result of MVC, with reduction in the amplitude of the compound muscle action potential generated by a submaximal stimulus (ALS 49 (7.6)%; controls 41.0 (5.4)%). These changes were associated with an increase in superexcitability (ALS 65.1 (25.4)%; controls 42.3 (5.7)%) and reduction in strength–duration time constant (ALS 20 (4.9)%; controls 10 (2.5)%; p<0.01), indicative of axonal hyperpolarisation. The increase in threshold was more pronounced in patients with ALS with predominantly lower motor neuronal involvement.
Higher firing rates of surviving motor axons attempting to compensate for neurogenic weakness are likely to explain the greater activity dependent changes in ALS. As such, the present study suggests a further peripheral factor underlying the development of fatigue in ALS.
PMCID: PMC2117598  PMID: 17371901
24.  Theta burst stimulation-induced inhibition of dorsolateral prefrontal cortex reveals hemispheric asymmetry in striatal dopamine release during a set-shifting task – a TMS–[11C]raclopride PET study 
The European journal of neuroscience  2008;28(10):2147-2155.
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.
PMCID: PMC2967524  PMID: 19046396 CAMSID: cams1540
basal ganglia; executive function; positron emission tomography; transcranial magnetic stimulation
25.  Oscillatory Beta Activity Mediates Neuroplastic Effects of Motor Cortex Stimulation 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.
PMCID: PMC3665911  PMID: 23637183

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