Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Educes Frequency-Specific Causal Relationships in the Motor Network

Felipe S. Salinas, Crystal Franklin, Shalini Narayana, C. Ákos Szabó, Peter T. Fox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Background Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) has the potential to treat brain disorders by modulating the activity of disease-specific brain networks, yet the rTMS frequencies used are delivered in a binary fashion - excitatory (>1 Hz) and inhibitory (≤1 Hz). Objective To assess the effective connectivity of the motor network at different rTMS stimulation rates during positron-emission tomography (PET) and confirm that not all excitatory rTMS frequencies act on the motor network in the same manner. Methods We delivered image-guided, supra-threshold rTMS at 3 Hz, 5 Hz, 10 Hz, 15 Hz and rest (in separate randomized sessions) to the primary motor cortex (M1) of the lightly anesthetized baboon during PET imaging. Each rTMS/PET session was analyzed using normalized cerebral blood flow (CBF) measurements. Path analysis - using structural equation modeling (SEM) - was employed to determine the effective connectivity of the motor network at all rTMS frequencies. Once determined, the final model of the motor network was used to assess any differences in effective connectivity at each rTMS frequency. Results The exploratory SEM produced a very well fitting final network model (χ2 = 18.04, df = 21, RMSEA = 0.000, p = 0.647, TLI = 1.12) using seven nodes of the motor network. 5 Hz rTMS produced the strongest path coefficients in four of the seven connections, suggesting that this frequency is the optimal rTMS frequency for stimulation the motor network (as a whole); however, the premotor cerebellum connection was optimally stimulated at 10 Hz rTMS and the supplementary motor area caudate connection was optimally driven at 15 Hz rTMS. Conclusion(s) We have demonstrated that 1) 5 Hz rTMS revealed the strongest path coefficients (i.e. causal influence) on the nodes of the motor network, 2) stimulation at "excitatory" rTMS frequencies did not produce increased CBF in all nodes of the motor network, 3) specific rTMS frequencies may be used to target specific none-to-node interactions in the stimulated brain network, and 4) more research needs to be performed to determine the optimum frequency for each brain circuit and/or node.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)406-414
Number of pages9
JournalBrain Stimulation
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2016


  • Effective connectivity
  • Motor cortex
  • Network
  • PET
  • Rate
  • TMS

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Clinical Neurology


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