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Assessing cortical excitability with electroencephalography: A pilot study with EEG-iTBS


Schuler,  Anna-Lisa       
Lise Meitner Research Group Cognition and Plasticity, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Pellegrino, G., Schuler, A.-L., Cai, Z., Marinazzo, D., Tecchio, F., Ricci, L., et al. (2023). Assessing cortical excitability with electroencephalography: A pilot study with EEG-iTBS. bioRxiv. doi:10.1101/2023.09.08.556829.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-000D-B523-F
Cortical excitability measures neural reactivity to stimuli, usually delivered via Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS). Excitation/inhibition balance (E/I) is the ongoing equilibrium between excitatory and inhibitory activity of neural circuits. According to some studies, E/I could be estimated in-vivo and non-invasively through the modeling of electroencephalography (EEG) signals. Several measures have been proposed (phase consistency in the gamma band, sample entropy, exponent of the power spectral density 1/f curve, E/I index extracted from detrend fluctuation analysis, and alpha power). It remains to be investigated to what extent they scale with excitability and how they relate to each other. Intermittent theta burst stimulation (iTBS) of the primary motor cortex (M1) is a non-invasive neuromodulation technique allowing controlled and focal enhancement of cortical excitability and E/I of the stimulated hemisphere. M1 excitability and several E/I estimates extracted from resting state EEG recordings were assessed before and after iTBS in a cohort of healthy subjects. Enhancement of M1 excitability, as measured through motor-evoked potentials (MEPs), and phase consistency of the cortex in high gamma band correlated with each other. Other measures of E/I showed some expected results, but no correlation with TMS excitability measures or consistency with each other. EEG E/I estimates offer an intriguing opportunity to map cortical excitability non-invasively, with high spatio-temporal resolution and with a stimulus independent approach. While different EEG E/I estimates may reflect the activity of diverse excitatory-inhibitory circuits, spatial phase synchrony in the gamma band is the measure that best captures excitability changes in the primary motor cortex.