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Mult Scler. 2010 Nov;16(11):1308-16. doi: 10.1177/1352458510376957. Epub 2010 Aug 11.

Differential patterns of interhemispheric functional disconnection in mild and advanced multiple sclerosis.

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  • 1Clinica Neurologica, Dipartimento di Neuroscienze, Università Tor Vergata, Rome, Italy.



Patients with multiple sclerosis may present altered patterns of connectivity between the two brain hemispheres. To date, only transcallosal connectivity between the two primary motor cortices (M1) has been investigated functionally in patients with multiple sclerosis.


The aim of this study was to investigate whether connectivity between the dorsal premotor cortex and the contralateral M1 was altered in patients with multiple sclerosis, and to see whether clinical progression is accompanied by exacerbated dorsal premotor cortex-M1 disconnectivity.


A twin-coil transcranial magnetic stimulation approach was used to investigate both excitatory and inhibitory interhemispheric connections between the left dorsal premotor cortex and the contralateral M1 in 18 multiple sclerosis patients without disability, in 18 multiple sclerosis patients with advanced disease and in 12 age-matched healthy subjects. To activate distinct inhibitory and facilitatory transcallosal pathways, the intensity of dorsal premotor cortex stimulation was adjusted to be either suprathreshold (110% of resting motor threshold) or subthreshold (80% of active motor threshold).


Our sample of patients with multiple sclerosis showed altered patterns of interhemispheric dorsal premotor cortex-M1 functional connectivity even in the absence of clinical deficits. Facilitatory connections originating from dorsal premotor cortex were reduced in multiple sclerosis patients with or without disability, while inhibitory dorsal premotor cortex-M1 connections were altered only in disabled patients.


The current study demonstrates that functional excitatory connectivity originating from non-primary motor areas is compromised in multiple sclerosis patients even in the absence of clinical disability. Clinical disease progression leads to an impairment of both excitatory and inhibitory transcallosal connections.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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