Short trains of suprathreshold 5-Hz repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) over primary motor cortex (M1) evoke motor potentials (MEPs) in hand muscles that progressively increase in amplitude via a mechanism that is thought to be similar to short-term potentiation described in animal preparations. Long trains of subthreshold rTMS over dorsal premotor cortex (PMd) are known to affect the amplitude of single-pulse MEPs evoked from M1. We tested whether PMd-rTMS affects short-term facilitation in M1. We also explored the effect of PMd-rTMS on M1 responses evoked by single-pulse TMS of different polarities. We tested in 15 healthy subjects short-term facilitation in left M1 (10 suprathreshold TMS pulses at 5 Hz) after applying rTMS to left PMd (1,500 subthreshold pulses at 1 and 5 Hz). In a sample of subjects we delivered single-pulse TMS with different polarities and paired-pulse TMS at short intervals (SICI) after PMd-rTMS. Short-term facilitation in M1 was reduced after applying 1 Hz to PMd, but was unaffected after 5-Hz PMd-rTMS. PMd-rTMS with 1 Hz reduced the amplitude of MEPs evoked by monophasic posteroanterior (PA) or biphasic anteroposterior (AP)-PA but had little effect on MEPs by monophasic AP or biphasic PA-AP single-pulse TMS. PMd-rTMS left SICI unchanged. PMd-rTMS (1 Hz) reduces short-term facilitation in M1 induced by short 5-Hz trains. This effect is likely to be caused by reduced facilitation of I-wave inputs to corticospinal neurons.
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