Repetitive magnetic stimulation of cortical motor areas in Parkinson's disease: Implications for the pathophysiology of cortical function



We investigated the neurophysiological and clinical effects of repetitive magnetic stimulation (rTMS) delivered to the cortical motor areas in healthy subjects and patients with Parkinson's disease. rTMS was delivered with a high speed magnetic stimulator (Cadwell, Kennewick, WA) through a figure-eight coil centred on the primary motor area at a stimulus intensity of 120% motor threshold. Trains of 10 stimuli were delivered at frequencies of 5 Hz while subjects were at rest and during a voluntary contraction of the contralateral first dorsal interosseous muscle. In normal subjects at rest, the muscle evoked responses (MEPs) to each stimulus in a train of magnetic stimuli progressively increased in size during the train. rTMS left the MEPs unchanged in patients off therapy and had a small facilitatory effect in those on therapy. In normal subjects and patients, 5-Hz rTMS trains delivered during a voluntary contraction of the target muscle left the MEP unchanged in size. MEPs were followed by a silent period that increased in duration during the course of the train. The silent period duration increased to a similar extent in patients and controls. The reduced rTMS-induced facilitation of MEPs in patients with Parkinson's disease reflects a decreased facilitation of the excitatory cells in the cortical motor areas. © 2002 Movement Disorder Society.