Nil effects of μ-rhythm phase-dependent burst-rTMS on cortical excitability in humans: A resting-state EEG and TMS-EEG study
Public Library of Science (PLoS) -- PLOS ONE
DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0208747

Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) can induce excitability changes of a stimulated brain area through synaptic plasticity mechanisms. High-frequency (100 Hz) triplets of rTMS synchronized to the negative but not the positive peak of the ongoing sensorimotor μ-rhythm isolated with the concurrently acquired electroencephalography (EEG) resulted in a reproducible long-term potentiation like increase of motor evoked potential (MEP) amplitude, an index of corticospinal excitability (Zrenner et al. 2018, Brain Stimul 11:374–389). Here, we analyzed the EEG and TMS-EEG data from (Zrenner et al., 2018) to investigate the effects of μ-rhythm-phase-dependent burst-rTMS on EEG-based measures of cortical excitability. We used resting-state EEG to assess μ- and β-power in the motor cortex ipsi- and contralateral to the stimulation, and single-pulse TMS-evoked and induced EEG responses in the stimulated motor cortex. We found that μ-rhythm-phase-dependent burst-rTMS did not significantly change any of these EEG measures, despite the presence of a significant differential and reproducible effect on MEP amplitude. We conclude that EEG measures of cortical excitability do not reflect corticospinal excitability as measured by MEP amplitude. Most likely this is explained by the fact that rTMS induces complex changes at the molecular and synaptic level towards both excitation and inhibition that cannot be differentiated at the macroscopic level by EEG.