Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from BMC Neuroscience and BioMed Central.

Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Modulating spontaneous brain activity using repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation

Ysbrand D van der Werf123*, Ernesto J Sanz-Arigita45, Sanne Menning6 and Odile A van den Heuvel37

Author Affiliations

1 Sleep and Cognition, Netherlands Institute for Neurosciences, an institute of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, Meibergdreef 47, 1105BA Amsterdam, The Netherlands

2 Clinical Neurophysiology, VU University medical center, PO Box 7057 1007MB Amsterdam, The Netherlands

3 Dept Anatomy and Neurosciences, VU University medical center, PO Box 7057 1007MB Amsterdam, The Netherlands

4 Radiology, VU University medical center, PO Box 7057 1007MB Amsterdam, The Netherlands

5 Dept Radiology, CITA-Alzheimer Foundation, Parque Tecnológico de San Sebastián, P º Mikeletegi 61, 20009 Donostia-San Sebastián, Spain

6 Dept Psychosocial Research and Epidemiology, Netherlands Cancer Institute, Plesmanlaan 121, 1066CX Amsterdam, The Netherlands

7 Psychiatry, VU University medical center, PO Box 7057 1007MB Amsterdam, The Netherlands

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Neuroscience 2010, 11:145  doi:10.1186/1471-2202-11-145

Published: 10 November 2010

Abstract

Background

When no specific stimulus or task is presented, spontaneous fluctuations in brain activity occur. Brain regions showing such coherent fluctuations are thought to form organized networks known as 'resting-state' networks, a main representation of which is the default mode network. Spontaneous brain activity shows abnormalities in several neurological and psychiatric diseases that may reflect disturbances of ongoing thought processes. Information about the degree to which such spontaneous brain activity can be modulated may prove helpful in the development of treatment options. We investigated the effect of offline low-frequency rTMS on spontaneous neural activity, as measured with fMRI, using a sequential independent-component-analysis and regression approach to investigate local changes within the default mode network.

Results

We show that rTMS applied over the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex results in distal changes of neural activity, relative to the site of stimulation, and that these changes depend on the patterns of brain network activity during 'resting-state'.

Conclusions

Whereas the proximal changes may reflect the off-line effect of direct stimulation of neural elements, the distal changes likely reflect modulation of functional connectivity.