Rapid-Rate Paired Associative Stimulation over the Primary Somatosensory Cortex
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Rapid-rate paired associative stimulation (rPAS) involves repeat pairing of peripheral nerve stimulation and Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) pulses at a 5 Hz frequency. RPAS over primary motor cortex (M1) operates with spike-timing dependent plasticity such that increases in corticospinal excitability occur when the nerve and TMS pulse temporally coincide in cortex. The present study investigates the effects of rPAS over primary somatosensory cortex (SI) which has not been performed to date. In a series of experiments, rPAS was delivered over SI and M1 at varying timing intervals between the nerve and TMS pulse based on the latency of the N20 somatosensory evoked potential (SEP) component within each participant (intervals for SI-rPAS: N20, N20-2.5 ms, N20 + 2.5 ms, intervals for M1-rPAS: N20, N20+5 ms). Changes in SI physiology were measured via SEPs (N20, P25, N20-P25) and SEP paired-pulse inhibition, and changes in M1 physiology were measured with motor evoked potentials and short-latency afferent inhibition. Measures were obtained before rPAS and at 5, 25 and 45 minutes following stimulation. Results indicate that paired-pulse inhibition and short-latency afferent inhibition were reduced only when the SI-rPAS nerve-TMS timing interval was set to N20-2.5 ms. SI-rPAS over SI also led to remote effects on motor physiology over a wider range of nerve-TMS intervals (N20-2.5 ms - N20+2.5 ms) during which motor evoked potentials were increased. M1-rPAS increased motor evoked potentials and reduced short-latency afferent inhibition as previously reported. These data provide evidence that, similar to M1, rPAS over SI is spike-timing dependent and is capable of exerting changes in SI and M1 physiology.