Effects of transcranial magnetic stimulation on the H reflex and F wave in the hand muscles

M. Inghilleri, C. Lorenzano, A. Conte, V. Frasca, M. Manfredi, A. Berardelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Objective: In 14 healthy subjects, we studied the effects of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) on the excitability of spinal motoneurons in the abductor pollicis brevis muscle (ABP), by testing the F wave and H reflex. Methods: TMS pulses were delivered with the subjects at rest and at various motor threshold (Mth) intensities. Electrical stimuli were delivered to the median nerve at the wrist at two different intensities. High-intensity pulse was used to evoke an F wave and low-intensity paired pulse to evoke an H reflex in the ABP muscle. The effects of TMS were studied using a conditioning-test paradigm. The tests F wave and H reflex were conditioned by TMS (120% Mth) at various interstimulus intervals (ISIs) (30-100ms) and intensities (90-200% Mth). Results: At 30ms but not at ISIs from 40 to 100ms, conditioning TMS (120% Mth) significantly increased the F-wave area. At the 30ms ISI, conditioning TMS at 120% Mth intensity significantly increased the F-wave area whereas higher intensities (140-180% Mth) did not. At 200% Mth intensity, the F-wave area decreased significantly. At 30 and 40ms ISIs, conditioning TMS at 120% Mth significantly reduced the H-reflex area. At 50-100ms ISIs, the H-reflex area almost matched the control value. At the 30ms ISI, conditioning TMS at ≥100% Mth intensity significantly decreased the H-reflex area. Conclusions: In conclusion, our findings suggest that the distinct changes in the TMS-conditioned F wave and H reflex reflect changing excitability in the motoneuronal populations activated by the cortical input.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1096-1101
Number of pages6
JournalClinical Neurophysiology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 2003



  • F wave
  • H reflex
  • Magnetic stimulation
  • Spinal cord excitability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Neurology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Physiology (medical)

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