The primary motor cortex (M1) is strongly influenced by several frontal regions. Dual-site transcranial magnetic stimulation (dsTMS) has highlighted the timing of early (<40 ms) prefrontal/premotor influences over M1. Here we used dsTMS to investigate, for the first time, longer-latency causal interactions of the posterior inferior frontal gyrus (pIFG) and pre-supplementary motor area (pre-SMA) with M1 at rest. A suprathreshold test stimulus (TS) was applied over M1 producing a motor-evoked potential (MEP) in the relaxed hand. Either a subthreshold or a suprathreshold conditioning stimulus (CS) was administered over ipsilateral pIFG/pre-SMA sites before the TS at different CS-TS inter-stimulus intervals (ISIs: 40-150 ms). Independently of intensity, CS over pIFG and pre-SMA (but not over a control site) inhibited MEPs at an ISI of 40 ms. The CS over pIFG produced a second peak of inhibition at an ISI of 150 ms. Additionally, facilitatory modulations were found at an ISI of 60 ms, with supra- but not subthreshold CS intensities. These findings suggest differential modulatory roles of pIFG and pre-SMA in M1 excitability. In particular, the pIFG -but not the pre-SMA- exerts intensity-dependent modulatory influences over M1 within the explored time window of 40-150 ms, evidencing fine-tuned control of M1 output.
- Journal Article