Variability and interhemispheric asymmetry of the responses to paired-coil TMS of the primary motor cortex.
Trial-to-trial variability of the motor evoked potentials (MEP) to transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a well-known phenomenon. However, the relationship between the fluctuations of the different types of the motor output and other motor system parameters such as corticospinal excitability, interhemispheric inhibition (IHI) and their interhemispheric asymmetry have not yet been fully investigated. We studied 20 young healthy right-handed volunteers. Four TMS sessions were performed (two single-pulse TMS and two paired-coil TMS with IHI paradigm sessions for each hemisphere), 70 stimuli were delivered during every session. Coefficient of quartile variation (CQV) was used to quantify trail-to-trail variability of MEPs amplitude. Resting motor threshold values were correlated between hemispheres (r = .842, p < .001). IHI phenomenon from the left hemisphere was obtained in 18 out of 20 volunteers, while IHI phenomena from the right hemisphere was shown in 16 out of 20. A strong correlation between the variability of MEP‘s amplitudes during IHI paradigm and the degree of IHI was found for the left hand (r = −.718, p < .001). We also observed a strong correlation between CQV of MEPs from both hands to single-pulse TMS (r = .632, p = .004). A side-specific correlation between the variability of the responses to single-pulse and paired-coil TMS was found for the dominant hemisphere (r = .524, p = .021). Our preliminary results demonstrate the importance of the trial-to-trial variability of the MEPs and its interhemispheric specificity as a defining characteristics of the motor system. This study was partially supported by ofi-m RFBR grant 17-29-02518, by HSE Basic Research Program and Russian Academic Excellence Project ‘5-100’.