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Brain Topogr. 2010 Jan;22(4):294-306. doi: 10.1007/s10548-009-0084-7. Epub 2009 Mar 14.

Mechanisms and applications of theta-burst rTMS on the human motor cortex.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy III, University Clinic Ulm, Germany.


Theta-burst Stimulation (TBS) is a novel form of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS). Applied over the primary motor cortex it has been successfully used to induce changes in cortical excitability. The advantage of this stimulation paradigm is that it is able to induce strong and long lasting effects using a lower stimulation intensity and a shorter time of stimulation compared to conventional rTMS protocols. Since its first description, TBS has been used in both basic and clinical research in the last years and more recently it has been expanded to other domains than the motor system. Its capacity to induce synaptic plasticity could lead to therapeutic implications for neuropsychiatric disorders. The neurobiological mechanisms of TBS are not fully understood at present; they may involve long-term potentiation (LTP)- and depression (LTD)-like processes, as well as inhibitory mechanisms modulated by GABAergic activity. This article highlights current hypotheses regarding the mechanisms of action of TBS and some central factors which may influence cortical responses to TBS. Furthermore, previous and ongoing research performed in the field of TBS on the motor cortex is summarized.

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