Bilateral primary motor cortex circuitry is modulated due to theta burst stimulation to left dorsal premotor cortex and bimanual training
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Motor preparatory and execution activity is enhanced after a single session of bimanual visuomotor training (BMT). Recently, we have shown that increased primary motor cortex (M1) excitability occurs when BMT involves simultaneous activation of homologous muscles and these effects are enhanced when BMT is preceded by intermittent theta burst stimulation (iTBS) to the left dorsal premotor cortex (lPMd). The neural mechanisms underlying these modulations are unclear, but may include interhemispheric interactions between homologous M1s and connectivity with premotor regions. The purpose of this study was to investigate the possible intracortical and interhemispheric modulations of the extensor carpi radials (ECR) representation in M1 bilaterally due to: (1) BMT, (2) iTBS to lPMd, and (3) iTBS to lPMd followed by BMT. This study tests three related hypotheses: (1) BMT will enhance excitability within and between M1 bilaterally, (2) iTBS to lPMd will primarily enhance left M1 (lM1) excitability, and (3) the combination of these interventions will cause a greater enhancement of bilateral M1 excitability. We used single and paired-pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to quantify M1 circuitry bilaterally. The results demonstrate the neural mechanisms underlying the early markers of rapid functional plasticity associated with BMT and iTBS to lPMd primarily relate to modulations of long-interval inhibitory (i.e. GABAB-mediated) circuitry within and between M1s. This work provides novel insight into the underlying neural mechanisms involved in M1 excitability changes associated with BMT and iTBS to lPMd. Critically, this work may inform rehabilitation training and stimulation techniques that modulate cortical plasticity after brain injury.
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