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Exp Brain Res. 2002 Nov;147(1):108-13. Epub 2002 Sep 18.

Short-term reduction of intracortical inhibition in the human motor cortex induced by repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation.

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Institute of Neurology, Università Cattolica, L.go A. Gemelli 8, 00168 Rome, Italy.


Ten healthy subjects and two patients who had an electrode implanted into the cervical epidural space underwent repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS; 50 stimuli at 5 Hz at active motor threshold intensity) of the hand motor area. We evaluated intracortical inhibition before and after rTMS. In healthy subjects, we also evaluated threshold and amplitude of motor evoked potentials (MEPs), duration of cortical silent period and short-latency intracortical facilitation. rTMS led to a short-lasting reduction in the amount of intracortical inhibition in control subjects with a high interindividual variability. There was no significant effect on other measures of motor cortex excitability. Direct recordings of descending corticospinal volleys from the patients were consistent with the idea that the effect of rTMS on intracortical inhibition occurred at the cortical level. Since the level of intracortical inhibition can be influenced by drugs that act on GABAergic systems, this may mean that low-intensity repetitive magnetic stimulation at 5 Hz can selectively modify the excitability of GABAergic networks in the human motor cortex.

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