Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Modulation of the cortical silent period elicited by single- and paired-pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation

Sho Kojima12*, Hideaki Onishi2, Kazuhiro Sugawara2, Hikari Kirimoto2, Makoto Suzuki2 and Hiroyuki Tamaki2

Author affiliations

1 Graduate school of Health and Welfare, Niigata University of Health and Welfare, Nigata, Japan

2 Institute for Human Movement and Medical Sciences, Niigata University of Health and Welfare, 1398 Shimami-cho, Kita-ku, Niigata City, Niigata, 950-3198, Japan

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Citation and License

BMC Neuroscience 2013, 14:43  doi:10.1186/1471-2202-14-43

Published: 2 April 2013



The cortical silent period (CSP) elicited by transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is affected by changes in TMS intensity. Some studies have shown that CSP is shortened or prolonged by short-interval intracortical inhibition (SICI) and intracortical facilitation (ICF), Those studies, however, used different TMS intensities to adjust the amplitude of the motor evoked potential (MEP). Therefore, it is unclear whether changes in CSP duration are induced by changes in TMS intensities or by SICI and ICF. The purpose of this study was to confirm the effects of muscle contractions and stimulus intensities on MEP amplitude and the duration of CSP induced by single-pulse TMS and to clarify the effects of SICI and ICF on CSP duration.

MEP evoked by TMS was detected from the right first dorsal interosseous muscle in 15 healthy subjects. First, MEP and CSP were induced by single-pulse TMS with an intensity of 100% active motor threshold (AMT) at four muscle contraction levels [10%, 30%, 50%, and 70% electromyogram (EMG)]. Next, MEP and CSP were induced by seven TMS intensities (100%, 110%, 120%, 130%, 140%, 150%, and 160% AMT) during muscle contraction of 10% EMG. Finally, SICI and ICF were recorded at the four muscle contraction levels (0%, 10%, 30%, and 50% EMG).


MEP amplitudes increased with increases in muscle contraction and stimulus intensity. However, CSP duration did not differ at different muscle contraction levels and was prolonged with increases in stimulus intensity. CSP was shortened with SICI compared with CSP induced by single-pulse TMS and with ICF at all muscle contraction levels, whereas CSP duration was not significantly changed with ICF.


We confirmed that CSP duration is affected by TMS intensity but not by the muscle contraction level. This study demonstrated that CSP is shortened with SICI, but it is not altered with ICF. These results indicate that after SICI, CSP duration is affected by the activity of inhibitory intermediate neurons that are activated by the conditioning SICI stimulus.

Transcranial magnetic stimulation; Motor evoked potential; Cortical silent period; Short-interval intracortical inhibition; Intracortical facilitation