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Inter- and intra-individual variability following intermittent theta burst stimulation: implications for rehabilitation and recovery
Background: The continued refinement of non-invasive brain stimulation (NBS) techniques is indicative of promising clinical and rehabilitative interventions that are able to modulate cortical excitability. Intermittent theta burst stimulation (iTBS) is one such technique that can increase cortical excitability, purportedly via LTP-like mechanisms. While iTBS may have the capacity to promote recovery after neurological injury, and to combat cognitive and motor decline, recent reports observed highly variable effects across individuals, questioning the efficacy of iTBS as a clinical tool.
Objective: The aim of this study was to examine intra-individual reliability and inter-individual variability in responses to iTBS.
Methods: Thirty healthy participants completed two experimental sessions of the iTBS protocol 1-3 weeks apart. Motor evoked potentials in response to single pulse TMS were used to assess corticospinal excitability prior to, and up to 36 min following, iTBS.
Results: At the group level, iTBS evoked statistically significant increases in motor cortical excitability across both sessions (p < 0.001), with 22 out of 30 participants exhibiting increases in excitability in both sessions. A strong intraclass correlation demonstrated that both the direction, and magnitude, of the plastic changes were reliable at the individual level.
Conclusions: Overall, our results suggest that iTBS is capable of inducing relatively robust and consistent effects within and between young individuals. As such, the capacity for iTBS to be exploited in clinical and rehabilitative interventions should continue to be explored.
Publication titleBrain Stimulation
Department/SchoolSchool of Psychological Sciences
Place of publicationUSA
Rights statementCopyright 2014 Elsevier