Source: Laboratories of Jonas T. Kaplan and Sarah I. Gimbel—University of Southern California
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) is a non-invasive brain stimulation technique that involves passing current through an insulated coil placed against the scalp. A brief magnetic field is created by current in the coil, and because of the physical process of induction, this leads to a current in the nearby neural tissue. Depending on the duration, frequency, and magnitude of these magnetic pulses, the underlying neural circuitry can be affected in many different ways. Here, we demonstrate the technique of single-pulse TMS, in which one brief magnetic pulse is used to stimulate the neocortex.
One observable effect of TMS is that it can produce muscle twitches when applied over the motor cortex. Due to the somatotopic organization of the motor cortex, different muscles can be targeted depending on the precise placement of the coil. The electrical signals that cause these muscle twitches, called motor evoked potentials, or MEPs, can be recorded and quantified by electrodes placed on the skin over the targeted muscle. The amplitude of MEPs can be interpreted to reflect the underlying excitability of the motor cortex; for example, when the motor cortex is activated, observed MEPs are larger. …