Induction of long-lasting changes of visual cortex excitability by five daily sessions of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) in healthy volunteers and migraine patients


Prof. Dr J. Schoenen, Headache Research Unit, University Department of Neurology, CHR Citadelle, B-4000 Liege, Belgium. Tel. + 32 4225 6111, fax + 32 4225 6451, e-mail


We have shown that in healthy volunteers (HV) one session of 1 Hz repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) over the visual cortex induces dishabituation of visual evoked potentials (VEPs) on average for 30 min, while in migraineurs one session of 10 Hz rTMS replaces the abnormal VEP potentiation by a normal habituation for 9 min. In the present study, we investigated whether repeated rTMS sessions (1 Hz in eight HV; 10 Hz in eight migraineurs) on 5 consecutive days can modify VEPs for longer periods. In all eight HV, the 1 Hz rTMS-induced dishabituation increased in duration over consecutive sessions and persisted between several hours (n = 4) and several weeks (n = 4) after the fifth session. In six out eight migraineurs, the normalization of VEP habituation by 10 Hz rTMS lasted longer after each daily stimulation but did not exceed several hours after the last session, except in two patients, where it persisted for 2 days and 1 week. Daily rTMS can thus induce long-lasting changes in cortical excitability and VEP habituation pattern. Whether this effect may be useful in preventative migraine therapy remains to be determined.