Multi-Day rTMS Exerts Site-Specific Effects on Functional Connectivity but Does Not Influence Associative Memory Performance

SOURCE: Cortex. 132:423-440, 2020 11.

AUTHORS: Hendrikse J; Coxon JP; Thompson S; Suo C; Fornito A; Yucel M; Rogasch NC

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a non-invasive brain stimulation technique with the capacity to modulate brain network connectivity and cognitive function. Recent studies have demonstrated long-lasting improvements in associative memory and resting-state connectivity following multi-day repetitive TMS (rTMS) to individualised parietal-hippocampal networks. We aimed to assess the reproducibility and network- and cognitive-specificity of these effects following multi-day rTMS. Participants received four days of 20 Hz rTMS to a subject-specific region of left lateral parietal cortex exhibiting peak functional connectivity to the left hippocampus. In a separate week, the same stimulation protocol was applied to a subject-specific region of pre-supplementary motor area (pre-SMA) exhibiting peak functional connectivity to the left putamen. We assessed changes to associative memory before and after each week of stimulation (N = 39), and changes to resting-state functional connectivity before and after stimulation in week one (N = 36). We found no evidence of long-lasting enhancement of associative memory or increased parieto-hippocampal connectivity following multi-day rTMS to the parietal cortex, nor increased pre-SMA-putamen connectivity following multi-day rTMS to pre-SMA. Instead, we observed some evidence of site-specific modulations of functional connectivity lasting ~24 h, with reduced connectivity within targeted networks and increased connectivity across distinct non-targeted networks. Our findings suggest a complex interplay between multi-day rTMS and network connectivity. Further work is required to develop reliable rTMS paradigms for driving changes in functional connectivity between cortical and subcortical regions.