Studying the cortical state with transcranial magnetic stimulation

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Perustieteiden korkeakoulu | Doctoral thesis (article-based)
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Aalto University publication series DOCTORAL DISSERTATIONS , 50/2011
Cortical excitability and connectivity describe the state of the cerebral cortex. They reflect the ability of neurons to respond to input and the way information flows in the neuronal networks. These properties can be assessed with transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), which enables direct and noninvasive modulation of cortical activity. Electrophysiological or hemodynamic recordings of TMS-evoked activity or behavioral measures of the stimulation effect characterize the state of the cortex during and as a result of the stimulation. In the research reported in this Thesis, the ability of TMS to inform us about the cortical state is studied from different points of view. First, we examine the relationships between different measures of cortical excitability to better understand the physiology behind them; we show how cortical background activity is related to motor cortical excitability and how the evoked responses reflect the excitability. Second, this study addresses the questions whether the TMS-evoked responses include stimulation-related artifacts, how these artifacts are generated, and how they can be avoided or removed. Specifically, we present a method to remove the artifacts from TMS-evoked electroencephalographic (EEG) signals arising as a result of cranial muscle stimulation. The use of TMS-EEG has been limited to relatively medial sites because of these artifacts, but the new method enables studying the cortical state even when stimulating areas near the cranial muscles, especially lateral sites. Finally, this work provides new information about brain function. The mechanisms how the brain processes visually guided timed motor actions are elucidated. Moreover, we show that cortical excitability as measured with TMS-evoked EEG increases during the course of wakefulness and decreases during sleep, which contributes to our understanding of what happens in the brain during wakefulness that makes us feel tired and why the brain needs sleep. The study also shows the sensitivity of the TMS-EEG measurement to changes in the state of the cortex. Accordingly, we demonstrate the power of TMS in studying the cortical state.
Supervising professor
Nieminen, Risto, Prof.
Thesis advisor
Ilmoniemi, Risto, Prof.
transcranial magnetic stimulation, electroencephalography, electromyography, near-infrared spectroscopy
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  • [Publication 1]: H. Mäki and R. J. Ilmoniemi. The relationship between peripheral and early cortical activation induced by transcranial magnetic stimulation. Neuroscience Letters, 478, 24-28, 2010. © 2010 Elsevier Ireland. By permission.
  • [Publication 2]: H. Mäki and R. J. Ilmoniemi. EEG oscillations and magnetically evoked motor potentials reflect motor system excitability in overlapping neuronal populations. Clinical Neurophysiology, 121, 492-501, 2010. © 2009 International Federation of Clinical Neurophysiology (IFCN). By permission.
  • [Publication 3]: R. Huber, H. Mäki, M. Rosanova, S. Casarotto, P. Canali, A. Casali, G. Tononi, and M. Massimini. Human cortical excitability increases with time awake. Cerebral Cortex. Submitted. © 2012 by authors.
  • [Publication 4]: H. Mäki and R. J. Ilmoniemi. Projecting out muscle artifacts from TMS-evoked EEG. NeuroImage, 54, 2706-2710, 2011. © 2010 Elsevier. By permission.
  • [Publication 5]: T. Näsi, H. Mäki, K. Kotilahti, I. Nissilä, P. Haapalahti, and R. J. Ilmoniemi. Magnetic-stimulation-related physiological artifacts in hemodynamic near-infrared spectroscopy signals. PLoS ONE, 6 (8), e24002, 2011. © 2011 by authors.
  • [Publication 6]: I. Ruspantini, H. Mäki, R. Korhonen, A. D'Ausilio, and R. J. Ilmoniemi. The functional role of the ventral premotor cortex in a visually paced finger tapping task: a TMS study. Behavioral Brain Research, 220, 325-330, 2011. © 2011 Elsevier. By permission.