Short-term and long-term plasticity interaction in human primary motor cortex

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) over primary motor cortex (M1) elicits changes in motor evoked potential (MEP) size thought to reflect short- and long-term forms of synaptic plasticity, resembling short-term potentiation (STP) and long-term potentiation/depression (LTP/LTD) observed in animal experiments. We designed this study in healthy humans to investigate whether STP as elicited by 5-Hz rTMS interferes with LTP/LTD-like plasticity induced by intermittent and continuous theta-burst stimulation (iTBS and cTBS). The effects induced by 5-Hz rTMS and iTBS/cTBS were indexed as changes in MEP size. We separately evaluated changes induced by 5-Hz rTMS, iTBS and cTBS applied alone and those induced by iTBS and cTBS delivered after priming 5-Hz rTMS. Interactions between 5-Hz rTMS and iTBS/cTBS were investigated under several experimental conditions by delivering 5-Hz rTMS at suprathreshold and subthreshold intensity, allowing 1 and 5min intervals to elapse between 5-Hz rTMS and TBS, and delivering one and ten 5-Hz rTMS trains. We also investigated whether 5-Hz rTMS induces changes in intracortical excitability tested with paired-pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation. When given alone, 5-Hz rTMS induced short-lasting and iTBS/cTBS induced long-lasting changes in MEP amplitudes. When M1 was primed with 10 suprathreshold 5-Hz rTMS trains at 1min before iTBS or cTBS, the iTBS/cTBS-induced after-effects disappeared. The 5-Hz rTMS left intracortical excitability unchanged. We suggest that STP elicited by suprathreshold 5-Hz rTMS abolishes iTBS/cTBS-induced LTP/LTD-like plasticity through non-homeostatic metaplasticity mechanisms. Our study provides new information on interactions between short-term and long-term rTMS-induced plasticity in human M1.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1908-1915
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Journal of Neuroscience
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - May 2011


  • Plasticity
  • Primary motor cortex
  • Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation
  • Theta-burst stimulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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