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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Dec 27;108(52):21229-34. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1113103109. Epub 2011 Dec 12.

Transcranial magnetic stimulation modulates the brain's intrinsic activity in a frequency-dependent manner.

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Berenson-Allen Center for Noninvasive Brain Stimulation, and Division of Cognitive Neurology, Department of Neurology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02215, USA.


Intrinsic activity in the brain is organized into networks. Although constrained by their anatomical connections, functional correlations between nodes of these networks reorganize dynamically. Dynamic organization implies that couplings between network nodes can be reconfigured to support processing demands. To explore such reconfigurations, we combined repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) and functional connectivity MRI (fcMRI) to modulate cortical activity in one node of the default network, and assessed the effect of this upon functional correlations throughout the network. Two different frequencies of rTMS to the same default network node (the left posterior inferior parietal lobule, lpIPL) induced two topographically distinct changes in functional connectivity. High-frequency rTMS to lpIPL decreased functional correlations between cortical default network nodes, but not between these nodes and the hippocampal formation. In contrast, low frequency rTMS to lpIPL did not alter connectivity between cortical default network nodes, but increased functional correlations between lpIPL and the hippocampal formation. These results suggest that the default network is composed of (at least) two subsystems. More broadly, the finding that two rTMS stimulation regimens to the same default network node have distinct effects reveals that this node is embedded within a network that possesses multiple, functionally distinct relationships among its distributed partners.

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