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PLoS One. 2013 Jun 27;8(6):e67136. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0067136. Print 2013.

Effects of Low Frequency Prefrontal Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation on the N2 Amplitude in a GoNogo Task.

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Department of Psychiatry, Ludwig-Maximilians University, Munich, Germany ; Child Neuropsychology Section, Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University Hospital of the RWTH Aachen, Aachen, Germany.


During the last decade, repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) of the prefrontal cortex has become established as a treatment for various mental diseases. The rational of prefrontal stimulation has been adapted from the mode of action known from rTMS using motor-evoked potentials though little is known about the precise effect of rTMS at prefrontal sites. The objective of the current study is to investigate the inhibitory effect of prefrontal 1 Hz rTMS by stimulating the generators of event-related potentials (ERP) which are located in the prefrontal cortex. Thus, 1 Hz rTMS was applied offline over the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) and the medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC) in 18 healthy subjects who subsequently underwent a GoNogo task. Both active conditions were compared to sham rTMS within a randomized and counterbalanced cross-over design in one day. ERPs were recorded during task performance and the N2 and the P3 were analysed. After 1 Hz rTMS of the left DLPFC (but not of the MPFC), an inhibitory effect on the N2 amplitude was observed, which was related to inhibitory control. In contrast, after 1 Hz rTMS of the MPFC (but not at the left DLPFC) a trend towards an increased P3 amplitude was found. There was no significant modulation of latencies and behavioural data. The results argue in favour of an inhibitory effect of 1 Hz rTMS on N2 amplitudes in a GoNogo task. Our findings suggest that rTMS may mildly modulate prefrontally generated ERP immediately after stimulation, even where behavioural effects are not measurable. Thus, combined rTMS-ERP approaches need to be further established in order to serve as paradigms in experimental neuroscience and clinical research.

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