Modulation of motor cortical excitability with auditory stimulation


Loud sounds have been demonstrated to increase motor cortex excitability when transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is synchronized with auditory evoked N100 potential measured from electroencephalography (EEG). The N100 potential is generated by an afferent response to sound onset and feature analysis, and upon novel sound it is also related to the arousal reaction. The arousal reaction is known to originate from the ascending reticular activating system of the brain stem and to modulate neuronal activity throughout the central nervous system. In this study we investigated the difference in motor evoked potentials (MEPs) when deviant and novelty stimuli were randomly interspersed in a train of standard tones. Twelve healthy subjects participated in this study. Three types of sound stimuli were used: 1) standard stimuli (800 Hz), 2) deviant stimuli (560 Hz), and 3) novelty stimuli (12 different sounds). In each stimulus sequence 600 stimuli were given. Of these, 90 were deviant stimuli randomly placed between the standard stimuli. Each of 12 novel sounds was presented once in pseudorandomized order. TMS was randomly mixed with the sound stimuli so that it was either synchronized with the individual N100 or trailed the sound onset by 200 ms. All sounds elicited an increase in motor cortex excitability. The type of sound had no significant effect. We also demonstrated that TMS timed at 200-ms intervals caused a significant increment of MEPs. This contradicted our hypothesis that MEP amplitudes to TMS synchronized with N100 would be greater than those to TMS at 200 ms after a sound and remains unexplained. NEW & NOTEWORTHY We demonstrated modulation of motor cortical excitability with parallel auditory stimulus by combining navigated transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) with auditory stimuli. TMS was synchronized with auditory evoked potentials considered to be generated by the unconscious attention call process in the auditory system.

Journal of Neurophysiology