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Cortical Paired Associative Stimulation Influences Response Inhibition: Cortico-cortical and Cortico-subcortical Networks.

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Kohl, Sina 
Hannah, Ricci 
Rocchi, Lorenzo 
Nord, Camilla L 
Rothwell, John 


BACKGROUND: The ability to stop a suboptimal response is integral to decision making and is commonly impaired across psychiatric disorders. Cortical paired associative stimulation (cPAS) is a form of transcranial magnetic stimulation in which paired pulses can induce plasticity at cortical synapses. Here we used cPAS protocols to target cortico-cortical and cortico-subcortical networks by using different intervals between the paired pulses in an attempt to modify response inhibition. METHODS: A total of 25 healthy volunteers underwent four cPAS sessions in random order 1 week apart: right inferior frontal cortex (IFC) stimulation preceding right presupplementary motor area (pre-SMA) stimulation by 10 or 4 ms and pre-SMA stimulation preceding IFC stimulation by 10 or 4 ms. Subjects were tested on the stop signal task along with the delay discounting task as control at baseline (randomized across sessions and cPAS protocol) and after each cPAS session. RESULTS: The stop signal reaction time showed a main effect of cPAS condition when controlling for age (F3,57 = 4.05, p = .01). Younger subjects had greater impairments in response inhibition when the pre-SMA pulse preceded the IFC pulse by 10 ms. In older individuals, response inhibition improved when the IFC pulse preceded the pre-SMA pulse by 4 ms. There were no effects on delay discounting. CONCLUSIONS: cPAS modified response inhibition through age-dependent long-term potentiation and depression-like plasticity mechanisms via putative cortico-cortical and cortico-subcortical networks. We show for the first time the capacity for cPAS to modify a cognitive process highly relevant to psychiatric disorders.



Age, Paired associative stimulation, Plasticity, Response inhibition, Stop signal task, Transcranial magnetic stimulation, Adult, Delay Discounting, Female, Frontal Lobe, Healthy Volunteers, Humans, Male, Motor Cortex, Neural Inhibition, Neural Pathways, Reaction Time, Time Factors, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, Young Adult

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Biol Psychiatry

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Elsevier BV
Medical Research Council (MR/P008747/1)
Medical Research Council (MC_UU_00005/4)
VV and the study are supported by the Medical Research Council Senior Clinical Fellowship (grant number MR/P008747/1).