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Keywords:

  • combined TMS-EEG;
  • intention;
  • motor cortex

Abstract

Human subjects are able to prepare cognitively to resist an involuntary movement evoked by a suprathreshold transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) applied over the primary motor cortex (M1) by anticipatory selective modulation of corticospinal excitability. Uncovering how the sensorimotor cortical network is involved in this process could reveal directly how a prior intention can tune the intrinsic dynamics of M1 before any peripheral intervention. Here, we used combined TMS-EEG to study the cortical integrative processes that are engaged both in the preparation to react to TMS (Resist vs. Assist) and in the subsequent response to it. During the preparatory period, the contingent negative variation (CNV) amplitude was found to be smaller over central electrodes (FC1, C1, Cz) when preparing to resist compared with preparing to assist the evoked movement whereas α-oscillation power was similar in the two conditions. Following TMS, the amplitude of the TMS evoked-N100 component was higher in the Resist than in the Assist condition for some central electrodes (FCz, C1, Cz, CP1, CP3). Moreover, for six out of eight subjects, a single-trial-based analysis revealed a negative correlation between CNV amplitude and N100 amplitude. In conclusion, prior intention can tune the excitability of M1. When subjects prepare to resist a TMS-evoked movement, the anticipatory processes cause a decreased cortical excitability by locally increasing the inhibitory processes.