Enhanced motor cortex facilitation in patients with vascular cognitive impairment-no dementia

Rita Bella, Raffaele Ferri, Manuela Pennisi, Mariagiovanna Cantone, Giuseppe Lanza, Giulia Malaguarnera, Concetto Spampinato, Daniela Giordano, Giovanna Alagona, Giovanni Pennisi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Data on Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) derived measures of cortical excitability and intracortical circuits in age-related white matter changes are scarce. We aimed to assess early changes of motor cortex excitability in nondemented elderly patients with subcortical ischemic vascular disease (SVD). Ten SVD elderly and ten age-matched controls underwent paired-pulse TMS for the analysis of intracortical inhibition (ICI) and facilitation (ICF). All subjects performed neuropsychological assessment and brain magnetic resonance imaging. SVD patients showed abnormal executive control function. No statistically significant differences were found for resting motor threshold, cortical silent period between SVD patients and controls or between the two hemispheres, in patients. A significant enhancement of mean ICF was observed in SVD patients. This study provides the first evidence of functional changes in intracortical excitatory neuronal circuits in patients with SVD and clinical features of vascular cognitive impairment-no dementia. Further studies are required to evaluate whether the observed change of ICF might predict cognitive and/or motor impairment in a population at risk for subcortical vascular dementia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)171-175
Number of pages5
JournalNeuroscience Letters
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Oct 10 2011


  • Aging brain
  • Executive dysfunction
  • Neurophysiology
  • Subcortical ischemic vascular disease
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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