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Keywords:

  • electroencephalogram;
  • electroencephalography;
  • repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation;
  • theta burst stimulation;
  • transcranial magnetic stimulation

Abstract

Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation paradigms such as continuous theta burst stimulation (cTBS) induce long-term potentiation- and long-term depression-like plasticity in the human motor cortex. However, responses to cTBS are highly variable and may depend on the activity of the cortex at the time of stimulation. We investigated whether power in different electroencephalogram (EEG) frequency bands predicted the response to subsequent cTBS, and conversely whether cTBS had after-effects on the EEG. cTBS may utilize similar mechanisms of plasticity to motor learning; thus, we conducted a parallel set of experiments to test whether ongoing electroencephalography could predict performance of a visuomotor training task, and whether training itself had effects on the EEG. Motor evoked potentials (MEPs) provided an index of cortical excitability pre- and post-intervention. The EEG was recorded over the motor cortex pre- and post-intervention, and power spectra were computed. cTBS reduced MEP amplitudes; however, baseline power in the delta, theta, alpha or beta frequencies did not predict responses to cTBS or learning of the visuomotor training task. cTBS had no effect on delta, theta, alpha or beta power. In contrast, there was an increase in alpha power following visuomotor training that was positively correlated with changes in MEP amplitude post-training. The results suggest that the EEG is not a useful state-marker for predicting responses to plasticity-inducing paradigms. The correlation between alpha power and changes in corticospinal excitability following visuomotor training requires further investigation, but may be related to disengagement of the somatosensory system important for motor memory consolidation.