Low-frequency rTMS of the primary motor area does not modify the response of the cerebral cortex to phasic nociceptive stimuli

Costanza Pazzaglia, Catello Vollono, Elisa Testani, Daniele Coraci, Giuseppe Granata, Luca Padua, Massimiliano Valeriani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) is a non-invasive technique of cortical stimulation. Although the exact mechanism of action is not clearly understood, it has been postulated that rTMS action on pain depends most on stimulation sites and stimulation parameters. Most studies concern high-frequency rTMS of the primary motor cortex (M1). High-frequency rTMS over motor cortex seems to induce an analgesic effect while contrasting results were reported after low-frequency rTMS. The aim of the current study was to investigate the effects of 1 Hz rTMS stimulation over the left primary motor cortex on subjective laser pain rating and laser evoked potential (LEP) amplitudes in healthy subjects. Subjects underwent two different sessions (real and sham rTMS) according to a cross-sectional design. In each session, LEPs and laser-pain rating to stimulation of both right and left hand dorsum were collected before 1 Hz rTMS over the left M1 area (baseline), which lasted 20 min. Then, LEPs and laser-pain rating were measured immediately after rTMS (T0), after 20 min from T0 (T0+20), and after 40 min from T0 (T0+40). We could not find any modification of both laser-pain rating and LEP parameters (latencies and amplitudes) following 1 Hz rTMS. Therefore, our results show that the low-frequency rTMS of the M1 area does not change the response of the cerebral cortex to pain.

Original languageEnglish
Article number00878
JournalFrontiers in Neuroscience
Issue numberNOV
Publication statusPublished - Nov 29 2018


  • Laser evoked potential
  • Low-frequency
  • Motor cortex
  • Pain processing
  • RTMS

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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