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Modulating Neural Networks With Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Applied Over The Dorsal Premotor And Primary Motor Cortices

Philippe A. Chouinard, Ysbrand D. Van Der Werf, Gabriel Leonard, Tomás Paus

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Our study uses the combined transcranial magnetic stimulation/positron emission tomography (TMS/PET) method for elucidating neural connectivity of the human motor system. We first altered motor excitability by applying low-frequency repetitive TMS over two cortical motor regions in separate experiments: the dorsal premotor and primary motor cortices. We then assessed the consequences of modulating motor excitability by applying single-pulse TMS over the primary motor cortex and measuring: 1) muscle responses with electromyography and 2) cerebral blood flow with PET. Low-frequency repetitive stimulation reduced muscle responses to a similar degree in both experiments. To map networks of brain regions in which activity changes reflected modulation of motor excitability, we generated t-statistical maps of correlations between reductions in muscle response and differences in cerebral blood flow. Low-frequency repetitive stimulation altered neural activity differently in both experiments. Neural modulation occurred in multiple brain regions after dorsal premotor cortex stimulation; these included motor regions in the frontal cortex as well as more associational regions in the parietal and prefrontal cortices. In contrast, neural modulation occurred in a smaller number of brain regions after primary motor cortex stimulation, many of these confined to the motor system. These findings are consistent with the known differences between the dorsal premotor and primary motor cortices in the extent of cortico-cortical anatomical connectivity in the monkey.