Low-intensity, short-interval theta burst stimulation modulates excitatory but not inhibitory motor networks

Sebastian Doeltgen, Michael Ridding

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    48 Citations (Scopus)


    Objective: Continuous theta burst stimulation (cTBS) administered at a low stimulus intensity can reduce the excitability of short interval intracortical inhibitory (SICI) networks without affecting the facilitatory intracortical motor networks involved in motor evoked potential (MEP) generation. We sought to determine whether low-intensity, facilitatory, short duration cTBS (300 stimuli over 20s; cTBS 300) could modulate SICI without influencing cortical circuits involved in MEP generation. Methods: MEPs and SICI were assessed at baseline and 5min and 20min following cTBS 300 applied at intensities of 60%, 65% or 70% of resting motor threshold (RMT). In addition, the effect of cTBS 300 applied at 60% RMT on low level SICI (20% test MEP suppression) was examined. Results: Low-intensity cTBS 300 facilitated MEP amplitude when applied at 70% RMT, and inhibited MEP amplitude when applied at 65% RMT. In contrast, none of the cTBS 300 protocols had significant effects on moderate or low levels of SICI. Conclusions: The effects of cTBS 300 on MEP generating motor networks are highly sensitive to stimulation intensity. Low-intensity cTBS 300 does not have isolated, facilitatory effects on SICI networks. Significance: These results further highlight the difficulties of selectively facilitating the inhibitory circuits within M1 that are responsible for SICI with currently available rTMS paradigms.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1411-1416
    Number of pages6
    JournalClinical Neurophysiology
    Issue number7
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2011


    • Motor evoked potential
    • Short interval intracortical inhibition (SICI)
    • Theta burst stimulation
    • Transcranial magnetic stimulation


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