Background: Transcranial magnetic stimulus induced motor evoked potentials (MEPs) are quantified either with a single suprathreshold stimulus or using a stimulus response curve. Here, we explored variability in MEPs influenced by different stimulus intensities for the tibialis anterior muscle in stroke. Methods: MEPs for the paretic and non-paretic tibialis anterior (TA) muscle representations were collected from 26 participants with stroke at seven intensities. Variability of MEP parameters was examined with coefficients of variation (CV). Results: CV for the non-paretic TA MEP amplitude and area was significantly lower at 130% and 140% active motor threshold (AMT). CV for the paretic TA MEP amplitude and area did not vary with intensity. CV of MEP latency decreased with higher intensities for both muscles. CV of the silent period decreased with higher intensity for the non-paretic TA, but was in reverse for the paretic TA. Conclusion: We recommend a stimulus intensity of greater than 130% AMT to reduce variability for the non-paretic TA. The stimulus intensity did not affect the MEP variability of the paretic TA. Variability of MEPs is affected by intensity and side tested (paretic and non-paretic), suggesting careful selection of experimental parameters for testing.
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