Effect of Stimulus Orientation and Intensity on Short-Interval Intracortical Inhibition (SICI) and Facilitation (SICF): A Multi-Channel Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Study

Source: PLoS ONE [Electronic Resource]. 16(9):e0257554, 2021.

Tugin S; Souza VH; Nazarova MA; Novikov PA; Tervo AE; Nieminen JO; Lioumis P; Ziemann U; Nikulin VV; Ilmoniemi RJ


Besides stimulus intensities and interstimulus intervals (ISI), the electric field (E-field) orientation is known to affect both short-interval intracortical inhibition (SICI) and facilitation (SICF) in paired-pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). However, it has yet to be established how distinct orientations of the conditioning (CS) and test stimuli (TS) affect the SICI and SICF generation. With the use of a
multi-channel TMS transducer that provides electronic control of the stimulus orientation and intensity, we aimed to investigate how changes in the CS and TS orientation affect the strength of SICI and SICF. We hypothesized that the CS orientation would play a major role for SICF than for SICI, whereas the CS intensity would be more critical for SICI than for SICF. In eight healthy subjects, we tested two ISIs (1.5 and 2.7 ms), two CS and TS orientations (anteromedial (AM) and posteromedial (PM)), and four CS intensities (50, 70, 90, and 110% of the resting motor threshold (RMT)). The TS intensity was fixed at 110% RMT. The intensities were adjusted to the corresponding RMT in the AM and PM orientations. SICI and
SICF were observed in all tested CS and TS orientations. SICI depended on the CS intensity in a U-shaped manner in any combination of the CS and TS orientations. With 70% and 90% RMT CS intensities, stronger PM-oriented CS induced stronger inhibition than weaker AM-oriented CS. Similar SICF was observed for any CS orientation. Neither SICI nor SICF depended on the TS orientation. We demonstrated that SICI and SICF could be elicited by the CS perpendicular to the TS, which indicates that these stimuli affected either overlapping or strongly connected neuronal populations. We concluded that SICI is primarily sensitive to the CS intensity and that CS intensity adjustment resulted in similar SICF for different CS orientations.