Heterosynaptic modulation of motor cortical plasticity in human

Zhen Ni, Carolyn Gunraj, Paramjit Kailey, Robin F.H. Cash, Robert Chen

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23 Citations (Scopus)


Inductions of long-term potentiation (LTP) and depression (LTD) are modulated if they are preceded by a priming protocol, in a manner consistent with metaplasticity. Depotentiation refers to reversal of LTP by a subsequent protocol that has no effect by itself. Paired associative stimulation (PAS) at interstimulus interval of 25 ms (PAS25) and 10 ms (PAS10) produces spike timing-dependent LTP-like and LTD-like effects in human primary motor cortex. Continuous theta burst stimulation (cTBS) with 600 pulses produces an LTD-like effect, whereas cTBS with 150 pulses (cTBS150) has no effect by itself. We investigated whether cortical plasticity induced by PAS can be modulated by heterosynaptic inputs of cTBS150. PAS25 and PAS10 primed and followed by cTBS150 were compared withPAS25 and PAS10 alone. Motor evoked potential (MEP) amplitude, recruitment curve, and intracortical circuits including short-interval intracortical inhibition (SICI), long-interval intracortical inhibition (LICI), intracortical facilitation, and short-latency afferent inhibition were measured before and after the interventions. After PAS25 alone, MEP amplitude increased while intracortical circuits did not change. A priming cTBS150 enhanced the effects of PAS25 with further increase in MEP amplitude and led to reduction in SICI and LICI. PAS25 followed by cTBS150 led to reduced MEP amplitude and increased LICI and SICI. Both priming and following cTBS150 reversed the LTD-like effect produced by PAS10 with little change in intracortical circuits. We conclude that cortical plasticity induced by PAS and cTBS interacts in a heterosynaptic and bidirectional manner. The order of the interventions determines whether the underlying mechanisms are related to metaplasticity or depotentiation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7314-7321
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number21
Publication statusPublished - 21 May 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Cortical plasticity
  • Depotentiation
  • Metaplasticity
  • Motor evoked potential
  • Transcranial magnetic stimulation

Cite this

Ni, Z., Gunraj, C., Kailey, P., Cash, R. F. H., & Chen, R. (2014). Heterosynaptic modulation of motor cortical plasticity in human. Journal of Neuroscience, 34(21), 7314-7321. https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4714-13.2014