Electrical and magnetic repetitive transcranial stimulation of the primary motor cortex in healthy subjects.Neurosci Lett. 2009 May 08; 455(1):1-3.NL
Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) delivered in short trains at 5Hz frequency and suprathreshold intensity over the primary motor cortex (M1) in healthy subjects facilitates the motor-evoked potential (MEP) amplitude by increasing cortical excitability through mechanisms resembling short-term synaptic plasticity. In this study, to investigate whether rTES acts through similar mechanisms we compared the effects of rTMS and repetitive transcranial electrical stimulation (rTES) (10 stimuli-trains, 5Hz frequency, suprathreshold intensity) delivered over the M1 on the MEP amplitude. Four healthy subjects were studied in two separate sessions in a relaxed condition. rTMS and anodal rTES were delivered in trains to the left M1 over the motor area for evoking a MEP in the right first dorsal interosseous muscle. Changes in MEP size and latency during the course of the rTMS and rTES trains were compared. The possible effects of muscle activation on MEP amplitude were evaluated, and the possible effects of cutaneous trigeminal fibre activation on corticospinal excitability were excluded in a control experiment testing the MEP amplitude before and after supraorbital nerve repetitive electrical stimulation. Repeated measures analysis of variance (ANOVA) showed that rTES and rTMS trains elicited similar amplitude first MEPs and a similar magnitude MEP amplitude facilitation during the trains. rTES elicited a first MEP with a shorter latency than rTMS, without significant changes during the course of the train of stimuli. The MEP elicited by single-pulse TES delivered during muscle contraction had a smaller amplitude than the last MEP in the rTES trains. Repetitive supraorbital nerve stimulation left the conditioned MEP unchanged. Our results suggest that 5 Hz-rTES delivered in short trains increases cortical excitability and does so by acting on the excitatory interneurones probably through mechanisms similar to those underlying the rTMS-induced MEP facilitation.