Cortical hemodynamic response and connectivity modulated by sub-threshold high-frequency repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation

Rihui Li, Thomas Potter, Jun Wang, Zhixi Shi, Chushan Wang, Lingling Yang, Rosa Chan, Yingchun Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) at sub-threshold intensity is a viable clinical strategy to enhance the sensory and motor functions of extremities by increasing or decreasing motor cortical excitability. Despite this, it remains unclear how sub-threshold rTMS modulates brain cortical excitability and connectivity. In this study, we applied functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) to investigate the alterations in hemodynamic responses and cortical connectivity patterns that are induced by high-frequency rTMS at a sub-threshold intensity. Forty high-frequency (10 Hz) trains of rTMS at 90% resting motor threshold (RMT) were delivered through a TMS coil placed over 1–2 cm lateral from the vertex. fNIRS signals were acquired from the frontal and bilateral motor areas in healthy volunteers (n = 20) during rTMS administration and at rest. A significant reduction in oxygenated hemoglobin (HbO) concentration was observed in most defined regions of interest (ROIs) during the stimulation period (p < 0.05). Decreased functional connectivity within prefrontal areas as well as between symmetrical ROI-pairs was also observed in most participants during the stimulation (p < 0.05). Results suggest that fNIRS imaging is able to provide a reliable measure of regional cortical brain activation that advances our understanding of the manner in which sub-threshold rTMS affects cortical excitability and brain connectivity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number90
JournalFrontiers in Human Neuroscience
StatePublished - Feb 1 2019


  • Brain connectivity
  • Cortical excitability
  • Hemodynamic response
  • Near infrared spectroscopy
  • Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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