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Continuous theta burst stimulation (cTBS) is a novel transcranial stimulation technique that causes significant inhibition of synaptic transmission for <or=1 h when applied over the primary motor cortex (M1) in humans. Here we use magnetic resonance spectroscopy to define mechanisms mediating this inhibition by noninvasively measuring local changes in the cortical concentrations of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and glutamate/glutamine (Glx). cTBS to the left M1 led to an increase in GABA compared with stimulation at a control site without significant change in Glx. This direct evidence for increased GABAergic interneuronal activity is framed in terms of a new hypothesis regarding mechanisms underlying cTBS.

Original publication




Journal article


J Neurophysiol

Publication Date





2872 - 2877


Adult, Aspartic Acid, Brain Chemistry, Brain Mapping, Electric Stimulation, Female, Glutamic Acid, Glutamine, Humans, Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy, Male, Motor Cortex, Neural Inhibition, Statistics, Nonparametric, Theta Rhythm, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, Young Adult, gamma-Aminobutyric Acid