Cortical Mechanisms Underlying Variability in Intermittent Theta-burst Stimulation-Induced Plasticity: A TMS-EEG Study

Source: Clinical Neurophysiology. 132(10):2519-2531, 2021 10.

Authors: Leodori G; Fabbrini A; De Bartolo MI; Costanzo M; Asci F; Palma V; Belvisi
D; Conte A; Berardelli A

OBJECTIVE: To test the hypothesis that intermittent theta burst stimulation (iTBS) variability depends on the ability to engage specific neurons in the primary motor cortex (M1).

METHODS: In a sham-controlled interventional study on 31 healthy volunteers, we used concomitant transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and electroencephalography (EEG). We compared baseline motor evoked potentials (MEPs), M1 iTBS-evoked EEG oscillations, and resting-state EEG (rsEEG) between subjects who did and did not show MEP facilitation following iTBS. We also investigated whether baseline MEP and iTBS-evoked EEG oscillations could explain inter and intraindividual variability in iTBS aftereffects.

RESULTS: The facilitation group had smaller baseline MEPs than the no-facilitation group and showed more iTBS-evoked EEG oscillation synchronization in the alpha and beta frequency bands. Resting-state EEG power was similar between groups and iTBS had a similar non-significant effect on rsEEG in both groups. Baseline MEP amplitude and beta iTBS-evoked EEG oscillation power explained both inter and intraindividual variability in MEP modulation following iTBS.

CONCLUSIONS: The results show that variability in iTBS-associated plasticity depends on baseline corticospinal excitability and on the ability of iTBS to engage M1 beta oscillations.

SIGNIFICANCE: These observations can be used to optimize iTBS investigational and therapeutic applications.