Does pericentral mu-rhythm "power" corticomotor excitability? - a matter of EEG perspective

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Background: Electroencephalography (EEG) and single-pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation (spTMS) of the primary motor hand area (M1-HAND) have been combined to explore whether the instantaneous expression of pericentral mu-rhythm drives fluctuations in corticomotor excitability, but this line of research has yielded diverging results.

Objectives: To re-assess the relationship between the mu-rhythm power expressed in left pericentral cortex and the amplitude of motor potentials (MEP) evoked with spTMS in left M1-HAND.

Methods: 15 non-preselected healthy young participants received spTMS to the motor hot spot of left M1-HAND. Regional expression of mu-rhythm was estimated online based on a radial source at motor hotspot and informed the timing of spTMS which was applied either during epochs belonging to the highest or lowest quartile of regionally expressed mu-power. Using MEP amplitude as dependent variable, we computed a linear mixed-effects model, which included mu-power and mu-phase at the time of stimulation and the inter-stimulus interval (ISI) as fixed effects and subject as a random effect. Mu-phase was estimated by post-hoc sorting of trials into four discrete phase bins. We performed a follow-up analysis on the same EEG-triggered MEP data set in which we isolated mu-power at the sensor level using a Laplacian montage centered on the electrode above the M1-HAND.

Results: Pericentral mu-power traced as radial source at motor hot spot did not significantly modulate the MEP, but mu-power determined by the surface Laplacian did, showing a positive relation between mu-power and MEP amplitude. In neither case, there was an effect of mu-phase on MEP amplitude.

Conclusion: The relationship between cortical oscillatory activity and cortical excitability is complex and minor differences in the methodological choices may critically affect sensitivity.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBrain Stimulation
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)713-722
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2021. Published by Elsevier Inc.

    Research areas

  • Faculty of Science - TMS-EEG, Brain-state dependent TMS, Gating-by-inhibition, Pericentral mu-rhymth

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