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Hum Brain Mapp. 2010 Aug;31(8):1272-80. doi: 10.1002/hbm.20942.

Group-level variations in motor representation areas of thenar and anterior tibial muscles: Navigated Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Study.

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Department of Clinical Neurophysiology, Kuopio University Hospital, Finland.


Navigated transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) can be used to stimulate functional cortical areas at precise anatomical location to induce measurable responses. The stimulation has commonly been focused on anatomically predefined motor areas: TMS of that area elicits a measurable muscle response, the motor evoked potential. In clinical pathologies, however, the well-known homunculus somatotopy theory may not be straightforward, and the representation area of the muscle is not fixed. Traditionally, the anatomical locations of TMS stimulations have not been reported at the group level in standard space. This study describes a methodology for group-level analysis by investigating the normal representation areas of thenar and anterior tibial muscle in the primary motor cortex. The optimal representation area for these muscles was mapped in 59 healthy right-handed subjects using navigated TMS. The coordinates of the optimal stimulation sites were then normalized into standard space to determine the representation areas of these muscles at the group-level in healthy subjects. Furthermore, 95% confidence interval ellipsoids were fitted into the optimal stimulation site clusters to define the variation between subjects in optimal stimulation sites. The variation was found to be highest in the anteroposterior direction along the superior margin of the precentral gyrus. These results provide important normative information for clinical studies assessing changes in the functional cortical areas because of plasticity of the brain. Furthermore, it is proposed that the presented methodology to study TMS locations at the group level on standard space will be a suitable tool for research purposes in population studies.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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