The effect of single and repeated prefrontal intermittent theta burst stimulation on cortical reactivity and working memory

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Background: With an increasing interest in the use of theta burst stimulation (TBS) as a cognitive enhancer and a potential therapeutic tool for psychiatric disorders, there is a need to identify optimal parameters of TBS in the prefrontal cortex. Objective/Hypothesis: This study examined the effect of two blocks of prefrontal intermittent TBS (iTBS) on cortical reactivity and working memory performance, compared to one block of iTBS and sham stimulation. We hypothesized that greater cortical effects would be obtained with two blocks of iTBS. Methods: Eighteen healthy participants attended three experimental sessions and received either sham, one block or two blocks of iTBS with a 15-min interval. Concurrent transcranial magnetic stimulation with electroencephalography (TMS-EEG) was used to assess the change in cortical reactivity via TMS-evoked potentials. Working memory performance was assessed using the N-back task. Cluster-based permutation statistics and two-way ANOVAs were used for neurophysiological and behavioural data, respectively. Results: Both single and two blocks of iTBS resulted in a significant increase in the amplitude of TMS-evoked N100 and P200. No significant differences were observed between active conditions in either neurophysiological changes or working memory performance, and both failed to improve working memory performance relative to sham. Conclusions: Two blocks of iTBS did not result in stronger measured effects as compared to one block of iTBS. Future studies are needed to identify the optimal stimulation pattern in order to achieve a desired effect. It is also important to establish the best approach in quantifying neuromodulatory effects targeting the prefrontal cortex.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)566-574
Number of pages9
JournalBrain Stimulation
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2018


  • Prefrontal cortex
  • Repeated blocks
  • Theta burst stimulation
  • Working memory

Cite this