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Rapid-rate transcranial magnetic stimulation of animal auditory cortex impairs short-term but not long-term memory formation


Professor H. Scheich, as above.


Bilateral rapid-rate transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) of gerbil auditory cortex with a miniature coil device was used to study short-term and long-term effects on discrimination learning of frequency-modulated tones. We found previously that directional discrimination of frequency modulation (rising vs. falling) relies on auditory cortex processing and that formation of its memory depends on local protein synthesis. Here we show that, during training over 5 days, certain rTMS regimes contingent on training had differential effects on the time course of learning. When rTMS was applied several times per day, i.e. four blocks of 5 min rTMS each followed 5 min later by a 3-min training block and 15-min intervals between these blocks (experiment A), animals reached a high discrimination performance more slowly over 5 days than did controls. When rTMS preceded only the first two of four training blocks (experiment B), or when prolonged rTMS (20 min) preceded only the first block, or when blocks of experiment A had longer intervals (experiments C and D), no significant day-to-day effects were found. However, in experiment A, and to some extent in experiment B, rTMS reduced the within-session discrimination performance. Nevertheless the animals learned, as demonstrated by a higher performance the next day. Thus, our results indicate that rTMS treatments accumulate over a day but not strongly over successive days. We suggest that rTMS of sensory cortex, as used in our study, affects short-term memory but not long-term memory formation.