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Clin Neurophysiol. 2004 Feb;115(2):255-66.

The physiological basis of transcranial motor cortex stimulation in conscious humans.

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


Transcranial stimulation of the human motor cortex can evoke several different kinds of descending activity depending on the type of stimulation, the intensity of stimulation and the area of the cortex being stimulated. Thus, transcranial magnetic stimulation preferentially activates different structures than transcranial electrical stimulation. In addition, the response to magnetic stimulation depends on the direction of the induced current in the brain, the waveform of the stimulating current, and the shape of the coil. Stimulation of the lower limb area of motor cortex recruits different elements than stimulation of the upper limb area. These differences occur because different structures in the motor cortex have a differential threshold to the different techniques of stimulation. We have had the opportunity to perform a series of direct recordings of the corticospinal volley evoked by the different techniques of transcranial stimulation from the epidural space of conscious patients with chronically implanted spinal electrodes. These recordings provide insights about the physiological basis of the excitatory and inhibitory phenomena produced by transcranial stimulation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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