A direct demonstration of cortical LTP in humans: A combined TMS/EEG study

S. K. Esser, R. Huber, M. Massimini, M. J. Peterson, F. Ferrarelli, G. Tononi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) is increasingly being used to promote cortical reorganization, under the assumption that it can induce long-term potentiation (LTP) of neural responses. This assumption is supported by several lines of indirect evidence. For example, rTMS of motor cortex can induce a potentiation of muscle motor evoked potentials that outlasts the stimulation by several minutes. In animal models, a direct demonstration of LTP is typically obtained by high-frequency electrical stimulation coupled with local field recordings of population responses. In this study, we exploited a new approach based on combined rTMS/high-density electroencephalography (hd-EEG) to obtain direct, noninvasive evidence for LTP in humans. Cortical responses to single TMS pulses were measured with hd-EEG before and after applying rTMS to motor cortex (5 Hz, 1500 pulses). The results demonstrate that, after rTMS, EEG responses at latencies of 15-55 ms were significantly potentiated. A topographic analysis revealed that this potentiation was significant at EEG electrodes located bilaterally over premotor cortex. Thus, these findings provide a direct demonstration in humans of LTP induced by rTMS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)86-94
Number of pages9
JournalBrain Research Bulletin
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 15 2006


  • 5 Hz
  • Evoked potential
  • Motor cortex
  • Plasticity
  • Premotor cortex
  • rTMS

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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