Low-frequency rTMS inhibitory effects in the primary motor cortex: Insights from TMS-evoked potentials
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The neuromodulatory effects of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) have been mostly investigated by peripheral motor-evoked potentials (MEPs). New TMS-compatible EEG systems allow a direct investigation of the stimulation effects through the analysis of TMS-evoked potentials (TEPs). We investigated the effects of 1-Hz rTMS over the primary motor cortex (M1) of 15 healthy volunteers on TEP evoked by single pulse TMS over the same area. A second experiment in which rTMS was delivered over the primary visual cortex (V1) of 15 healthy volunteers was conducted to examine the spatial specificity of the effects. Single-pulse TMS evoked four main components: P30, N45, P60 and N100. M1-rTMS resulted in a significant decrease of MEP amplitude and in a significant increase of P60 and N100 amplitude. There was no effect after V1-rTMS. 1-Hz rTMS appears to increase the amount of inhibition following a TMS pulse, as demonstrated by the higher N100 and P60, which are thought to originate from GABAb-mediated inhibitory post-synaptic potentials. Our results confirm the reliability of the TMS-evoked N100 as a marker of cortical inhibition and provide insight into the neuromodulatory effects of 1-Hz rTMS. The present finding could be of relevance for therapeutic and diagnostic purposes.