Low intensity repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation modulates skilled motor learning in adult mice

Alexander D. Tang, William Bennett, Claire Hadrill, Jessica Collins, Barbora Fulopova, Karen Wills, Aidan Bindoff, Rohan Puri, Michael I. Garry, Mark R. Hinder, Jeffery J. Summers, Jennifer Rodger, Alison J. Canty

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25 Citations (Scopus)


Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) is commonly used to modulate cortical plasticity in clinical and non-clinical populations. Clinically, rTMS is delivered to targeted regions of the cortex at high intensities (>1 T). We have previously shown that even at low intensities, rTMS induces structural and molecular plasticity in the rodent cortex. To determine whether low intensity rTMS (LI-rTMS) alters behavioural performance, daily intermittent theta burst LI-rTMS (120 mT) or sham was delivered as a priming or consolidating stimulus to mice completing 10 consecutive days of skilled reaching training. Relative to sham, priming LI-rTMS (before each training session), increased skill accuracy (~9%) but did not alter the rate of learning over time. In contrast, consolidating LI-rTMS (after each training session), resulted in a small increase in the rate of learning (an additional ~1.6% each day) but did not alter the daily skill accuracy. Changes in behaviour with LI-rTMS were not accompanied with long lasting changes in brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) expression or in the expression of plasticity markers at excitatory and inhibitory synapses for either priming or consolidation groups. These results suggest that LI-rTMS can alter specific aspects of skilled motor learning in a manner dependent on the timing of intervention.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4016
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2018


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