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J Neurosci. 2002 Jan 15;22(2):554-61.

Functional connectivity of human premotor and motor cortex explored with repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation.

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  • 1Sobell Department of Neurophysiology, Institute of Neurology, London WC1N 3BG, United Kingdom.


Connections between the premotor cortex and the primary motor cortex are dense and are important in the visual guidance of arm movements. We have shown previously that it is possible to engage these connections in humans and to measure the net amount of inhibition/facilitation from premotor to motor cortex using single-pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). The aim of this study was to test whether premotor activation can affect the excitability of circuits within the primary motor cortex (M1) itself. Repetitive TMS (rTMS), which is known to produce effects that outlast the train at the site of stimulation, was given for 20 min at 1 Hz over premotor, primary motor, and sensory areas of cortex at an intensity of 80% of the active motor threshold for the motor hand area. The excitability of some corticocortical connections in M1 was probed by using paired-pulse testing of intracortical inhibition (ICI) and intracortical facilitation (ICF) with a coil placed over the motor cortex hand area. rTMS over the premotor cortex, but not other areas, changed the time course of the ICI/ICF for up to 1 hr afterward without affecting motor thresholds or motor-evoked potential recruitment. The cortical silent period was also shortened. The implication is that rTMS at a site distant from the motor cortex can change the excitability of circuits intrinsic to the motor cortex.

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