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J Neurophysiol. 2012 May;107(9):2383-92. doi: 10.1152/jn.00707.2011. Epub 2012 Feb 8.

Task-dependent changes in cortical excitability and effective connectivity: a combined TMS-EEG study.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 6001 Research Park Blvd., Madison, WI 53719, USA.


The brain's electrical response to transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is known to be influenced by exogenous factors such as the frequency and intensity of stimulation and the orientation and positioning of the stimulating coil. Less understood, however, is the influence of endogenous neural factors, such as global brain state, on the TMS-evoked response (TMS-ER). In the present study, we explored how changes in behavioral state affect the TMS-ER by perturbing the superior parietal lobule (SPL) with single pulses of TMS and measuring consequent differences in the frequency, strength, and spatial spread of TMS-evoked currents during the delay period of a spatial short-term memory task and during a period of passive fixation. Results revealed that task performance increased the overall strength of electrical currents induced by TMS, increased the spatial spread of TMS-evoked activity to distal brain regions, and increased the ability of TMS to reset the phase of ongoing broadband cortical oscillations. By contrast, task performance had little effect on the dominant frequency of the TMS-ER, both locally and at distal brain areas. These findings contribute to a growing body of work using combined TMS and neuroimaging methods to explore task-dependent changes in the functional organization of cortical networks implicated in task performance.

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