Common framework for “virtual lesion” and state-dependent TMS: The facilitatory/suppressive range model of online TMS effects on behavior


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Abstract

HighlightsTranscranial magnetic stimulation can either facilitate or impair behavior.Nature of behavioral effects depends on factors such as brain state and intensity.We present a common framework to account for these effects.There are distinct intensity ranges for facilitatory and suppressive effects of TMS.Changes in excitability shift these ranges and account for behavioral effects.The behavioral effects of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) are often nonlinear; factors such as stimulation intensity and brain state can modulate the impact of TMS on observable behavior in qualitatively different manner. Here we propose a theoretical framework to account for these effects. In this model, there are distinct intensity ranges for facilitatory and suppressive effects of TMS – low intensities facilitate neural activity and behavior whereas high intensities induce suppression. The key feature of the model is that these ranges are shifted by changes in neural excitability: consequently, a TMS intensity, which normally induces suppression, can have a facilitatory effect if the stimulated neurons are being inhibited by ongoing task-related processes or preconditioning. For example, adaptation reduces excitability of adapted neurons; the outcome is that TMS intensities which inhibit non-adapted neurons induce a facilitation on adapted neural representations, leading to reversal of adaptation effects. In conventional “virtual lesion” paradigms, similar effects occur because neurons not involved in task-related processes are inhibited by the ongoing task. The resulting reduction in excitability can turn high intensity “inhibitory” TMS to low intensity “facilitatory” TMS for these neurons, and as task-related neuronal representations are in the inhibitory range, the outcome is a reduction in signal-to-noise ratio and behavioral impairment.

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