Interindividual variability and intraindividual reliability of intermittent theta burst stimulation-induced neuroplasticity mechanisms in the healthy brain

Lukas Schilberg*, Teresa Schuhmann, Alexander T Sack*

*Corresponding author for this work

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We combined patterned TMS with EMG in several sessions of a within-subject design to assess and characterize intraindividual reliability and interindividual variability of TMS-induced neuroplasticity mechanisms in the healthy brain. Intermittent theta burst stimulation (iTBS) was applied over M1 to induce long-term potentiation-like mechanisms as assessed by changes in corticospinal excitability. Furthermore, we investigated the association between the observed iTBS effects and individual differences in prolonged measures of corticospinal excitability. Our results show that iTBS-induced measures of neuroplasticity suffer from high variability between individuals within a single assessment visit and from low reliability within individuals across two assessment visits. This indicates that both group and individual effects of iTBS on corticospinal excitability cannot be assumed to be reliable and therefore need to be interpreted with caution, at least when measured by changes in the amplitudes of motor-evoked potentials.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1022-1032
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Cognitive Neuroscience
Issue number6
Early online date27 Jan 2017
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2017

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