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Neuronal tuning: Selective targeting of neuronal populations via manipulation of pulse width and directionality

  • I. Halawa
    Correspondence
    Corresponding author. Department of Clinical Neurophysiology, University Medical Centre Göttingen, Robert Koch Str. 40, 37075, Göttingen, Germany
    Affiliations
    Department of Clinical Neurophysiology, University Medical Centre Göttingen, Robert Koch Str. 40, 37075, Göttingen, Germany

    Medical Research Center of Excellence, National Research Center, Cairo, Egypt
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  • Y. Shirota
    Affiliations
    Department of Clinical Neurophysiology, University Medical Centre Göttingen, Robert Koch Str. 40, 37075, Göttingen, Germany

    Department of Neurology, The University of Tokyo Hospital, Tokyo, Japan
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  • A. Neef
    Affiliations
    Center for Biostructural Imaging of Neurodegeneration (BIN), Göttingen, Germany

    Campus Institute for the Dynamics of Biological Networks, Göttingen, Germany
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  • M. Sommer
    Affiliations
    Department of Clinical Neurophysiology, University Medical Centre Göttingen, Robert Koch Str. 40, 37075, Göttingen, Germany
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  • W. Paulus
    Affiliations
    Department of Clinical Neurophysiology, University Medical Centre Göttingen, Robert Koch Str. 40, 37075, Göttingen, Germany
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Published:April 29, 2019DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.brs.2019.04.012

      Highlights

      • Controlling and varying the pulse width when applying rTMS generates opposing plastic aftereffects.
      • The “classic” 1 Hz anteroposterior inhibitory paradigm switches towards facilitation with longer pulses.
      • Asymmetric anterior-posterior directed stimuli had stronger effects of as compared to symmetric pulse shapes.
      • Gradual switch from asymmetrical to symmetric pulse shapes went in line with gradual changes in aftereffects.
      • Bidirectional pulses of different intensity and length allow to target different direction specific neuronal components.

      Abstract

      Introduction

      Motor evoked potentials (MEP) in response to anteroposterior transcranial (AP) magnetic stimulation (TMS) are sensitive to the TMS pulse shape. We are now able to isolate distinct pulse properties, such as pulse width and directionality and evaluate them individually. Different pulse shapes induce different effects, likely by stimulating different populations of neurons. This implies that not all neurons respond in the same manner to stimulation, possibly, because individual segments of neurons differ in their membrane properties.

      Objectives

      To investigate the effect of different pulse widths and directionalities of TMS on MEP latencies, motor thresholds and plastic aftereffects of rTMS.

      Methods

      Using a controllable pulse stimulator TMS (cTMS), we stimulated fifteen subjects with quasi-unidirectional TMS pulses of different pulse durations (40 μs, 80 μs and 120 μs) and determined thresholds and MEP AP latencies. We then compared the effects of 80 μs quasi-unidirectional pulses to those of 80 μs pulses with different pulse directionality characteristics (0.6 and 1.0 M ratios). We applied 900 pulses of the selected pulse shapes at 1 Hz.

      Results

      The aftereffects of 1 Hz rTMS depended on pulse shape and duration. 40 and 80 μs wide unidirectional pulses induced inhibition, 120 μs wide pulses caused excitation. Bidirectional pulses induced inhibition during the stimulation but had facilitatory aftereffects. Narrower pulse shapes caused longer latencies and higher resting motor thresholds (RMT) as compared to wider pulse shapes.

      Conclusions

      We can tune the aftereffects of rTMS by manipulating pulse width and directionality; this may be due to the different membrane properties of the various neuronal segments such as dendrites.

      Significance

      To date, rTMS frequency has been the main determinant of the plastic aftereffects. However, we showed that pulse width also plays a major role, probably by recruiting novel neuronal targets.

      Keywords

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