Theta burst stimulation of the human motor cortex.
Huang Y-Z., Edwards MJ., Rounis E., Bhatia KP., Rothwell JC.
It has been 30 years since the discovery that repeated electrical stimulation of neural pathways can lead to long-term potentiation in hippocampal slices. With its relevance to processes such as learning and memory, the technique has produced a vast literature on mechanisms of synaptic plasticity in animal models. To date, the most promising method for transferring these methods to humans is repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), a noninvasive method of stimulating neural pathways in the brain of conscious subjects through the intact scalp. However, effects on synaptic plasticity reported are often weak, highly variable between individuals, and rarely last longer than 30 min. Here we describe a very rapid method of conditioning the human motor cortex using rTMS that produces a controllable, consistent, long-lasting, and powerful effect on motor cortex physiology and behavior after an application period of only 20-190 s.