Priming Frequencies of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation over Wernicke's Area Modulate Word Detection

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Priming stimulations have shown powerful effects on motor cortex behavior. However, the effects over language areas have not been explored. We assessed the effects of different priming frequencies of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), 1 Hz rTMS or 50 Hz bursts of rTMS (theta burst stimulation [TBS]), on temporoparietal language areas (i.e., Wernicke's area) localized with functional magnetic resonance imaging. Functional maps were acquired during an auditory word-detection task with native or foreign language sentences in 14 healthy men. Frameless stereotaxy was used to guide the transcranial magnetic stimulation coil position over Wernicke's area. Active and placebo randomized sessions of priming stimulations (1 Hz rTMS or TBS) were applied at rest, and response times (RTs) were recorded during the auditory word-detection task performed subsequently with 1 Hz rTMS. Individual anatomofunctional maps localized activation in Wernicke's area. Repeated-measure analysis of variance for RTs revealed that priming with 1 Hz rTMS facilitated the detection of native words, whereas priming with TBS facilitated the detection of foreign words. Consistent with motor cortex studies, these findings suggest that priming frequency plays a crucial role in word detection in the auditory stream.

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