Inhibitory and disinhibitory effects on I-wave facilitation in motor cortex

R. F. H. Cash, U. Ziemann, G. W. Thickbroom

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A suprathreshold pulse of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) delivered to human motor cortex results in a period of long-interval intracortical inhibition (LICI) followed by a briefer period of disinhibition (late cortical disinhibition [LCD]). Short-interval intracortical facilitation (SICF) is mediated by excitatory networks in the motor cortex responsible for the generation of the indirect (I-) wave volleys that are evoked by TMS at a periodicity of about 1.5 ms. Because the excitatory synaptic network responsible for SICF undergoes inhibitory regulation, we hypothesized that SICF will be modulated during periods of inhibition and disinhibition. In particular we were interested to know whether SICF was up-regulated during disinhibition, implying an increase in excitatory synaptic efficacy. We measured SICF, at a paired-pulse interval of 1.5 ms, at various times (100-300 ms) after a suprathreshold priming stimulus (PS) of sufficient strength to evoke LICI and LCD. We found that the strength of SICF was normal during LICI, but was increased during LCD by an average of 64%. SICF onset latency was reduced by one I-wave interval during LCD and was delayed by one I-wave interval during LICI. We conclude that disinhibition, rather than inhibition, modulates the excitatory neuronal networks that underlie SICF, whereas the I-wave targeted is modified by the presence of both inhibition and disinhibition and that there is therefore a dissociation between the strength and site of SICF interaction. The increase in SICF during disinhibition further indicates that this is a promising period to investigate or modulate excitatory synaptic networks while they are less constrained by ongoing levels of inhibition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)100-106
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Neurophysiology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2011
Externally publishedYes

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