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Concurrent human TMS-EEG-fMRI enables monitoring of oscillatory brain state-dependent gating of cortico-subcortical network activity

Publication year 2020
Published in Communications Biology
Authors J.C. Peters, Joel Reithler, Tom Alexander de Graaf, Teresa Schuhmann, R. Goebel, Alexander T Sack

Despite growing interest, the causal mechanisms underlying human neural network dynamics remain elusive. Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) allows to noninvasively probe neural excitability, while concurrent fMRI can log the induced activity propagation through connected network nodes. However, this approach ignores ongoing oscillatory fluctuations which strongly affect network excitability and concomitant behavior. Here, we show that concurrent TMS-EEG-fMRI enables precise and direct monitoring of causal dependencies between oscillatory states and signal propagation throughout cortico-subcortical networks. To demonstrate the utility of this multimodal triad, we assessed how pre-TMS EEG power fluctuations influenced motor network activations induced by subthreshold TMS to right dorsal premotor cortex. In participants with adequate motor network reactivity, strong pre-TMS alpha power reduced TMS-evoked hemodynamic activations throughout the bilateral cortico-subcortical motor system (including striatum and thalamus), suggesting shunted network connectivity. Concurrent TMS-EEG-fMRI opens an exciting noninvasive avenue of subject-tailored network research into dynamic cognitive circuits and their dysfunction.

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