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Regular version of the site

Article

Frequency-dependent tuning of the human motor system induced by transcranial oscillatory potentials.

Journal of Neuroscience. 2011. Vol. 31. No. 34. P. 12165-12170.
Feurra M., Bianco G., Santarnecchi E., Del Testa M., Rossi A., Rossi S.

Different corticothalamic brain modules intrinsically oscillate at a "natural frequency" in a topographically organized manner. In "quiescent" human sensorimotor regions, the main detectable oscillatory activity peaks at approximately 20 Hz, and partly contributes to determine the state of corticospinal excitability. Here, we showed that the transcranial application of an imperceptible, short-lasting (90 s) electric field oscillating at a physiological range increases corticospinal excitability online, with well defined frequency dependence and regional specificity. Indeed, the size of motor evoked potentials (MEPs) induced by navigated single-pulse TMS over the motor cortex significantly increased only during the local application of transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS) at 20 Hz (beta range). Other tACS frequencies (5, 10, and 40 Hz) applied on the motor cortex did not impact MEPs' size. Moreover, tACS applied on a control site (parietal cortex) and on a peripheral site (ulnar nerve) also failed to modulate MEPs. These results help clarifying the functional significance of the 20 Hz idling beta rhythm of sensorimotor regions and suggest potential clinical applications of this approach.