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PLoS One. 2011;6(5):e20023. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0020023. Epub 2011 May 16.

Area 5 influences excitability within the primary motor cortex in humans.

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Department of Kinesiology, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.


In non-human primates, Brodmann's area 5 (BA 5) has direct connectivity with primary motor cortex (M1), is largely dedicated to the representation of the hand and may have evolved with the ability to perform skilled hand movement. Less is known about human BA 5 and its interaction with M1 neural circuits related to hand control. The present study examines the influence of BA 5 on excitatory and inhibitory neural circuitry within M1 bilaterally before and after continuous (cTBS), intermittent (iTBS), and sham theta-burst stimulation (sham TBS) over left hemisphere BA 5. Using single and paired-pulse TMS, measurements of motor evoked potentials (MEPs), short interval intracortical inhibition (SICI), and intracortical facilitation (ICF) were quantified for the representation of the first dorsal interosseous muscle. Results indicate that cTBS over BA 5 influences M1 excitability such that MEP amplitudes are increased bilaterally for up to one hour. ITBS over BA 5 results in an increase in MEP amplitude contralateral to stimulation with a delayed onset that persists up to one hour. SICI and ICF were unaltered following TBS over BA 5. Similarly, F-wave amplitude and latency were unaltered following cTBS over BA 5. The data suggest that BA 5 alters M1 output directed to the hand by influencing corticospinal neurons and not interneurons that mediate SICI or ICF circuitry. Targeting BA 5 via cTBS and iTBS is a novel mechanism to powerfully modulate activity within M1 and may provide an avenue for investigating hand control in healthy populations and modifying impaired hand function in clinical populations.

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