Examining cortical dynamics and connectivity with simultaneous single-pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation and fast optical imaging

Nathan A. Parks, Edward L. Maclin, Kathy A. Low, Diane M. Beck, Monica Fabiani, Gabriele Gratton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a widely used experimental and clinical technique that directly induces activity in human cortex using magnetic fields. However, the neural mechanisms of TMS-induced activity are not well understood. Here, we introduce a novel method of imaging TMS-evoked activity using a non-invasive fast optical imaging tool, the event-related optical signal (EROS). EROS measures changes in the scattering of near-infrared light that occur synchronously with electrical activity in cortical tissue. EROS has good temporal and spatial resolution, allowing the dynamics and spatial spread of a TMS pulse to be measured. We used EROS to monitor activity induced in primary motor cortex (M1) by a TMS pulse. Left- and right-hand representations were mapped using standard TMS procedures. Optical sources and detectors mounted on thin rubber patches were then centered on M1 hand representations. EROS was recorded bilaterally from motor cortex while unilateral TMS was simultaneously delivered. Robust ipsilateral EROS activations were apparent within 16. ms of a pulse for TMS delivered to both left and right hemispheres. Clear motor evoked potentials (MEPs) were also elicited by these TMS pulses. Movement artifacts could be excluded as a source of EROS, as no activation was present on short-distance optical channels. For left hemisphere TMS subsequent (40. ms) contralateral activity was also present, presumably due to trans-synaptic propagation of TMS-evoked activity. Results demonstrate that concurrent TMS/EROS is a viable and potentially powerful method for studying TMS-induced activity in the human brain. With further development, this technique may be applied more broadly in the study of the dynamics of causal cortico-cortical connectivity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2504-2510
Number of pages7
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 1 2012


  • Connectivity
  • Event-related optical signal (EROS)
  • Motor evoked potential (MEP)
  • Primary motor cortex (M1)
  • Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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