Altered excitability of the motor cortex after minor head injury revealed by transcranial magnetic stimulation

A. V. Chistyakov, J. F. Soustiel, H. Hafner, M. Elron, M. Feinsod

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28 Scopus citations


This study attempts to find out whether the motor evoked potential (MEP) elicited by single pulse and slow-rate (1 Hz) repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) can disclose concealed subclinical impairments in the cerebral motor system of patients with minor head injury. The motor response to single pulse TMS (STMS) of the patient group was characterized by significantly higher threshold compared with that of the control group. The central motor conduction time, as well as the peripheral conduction time were normal in all patients pointing to cortical impairment. Two main patterns of MEP changes in response to repetitive TMS (RTMS) were observed in the patient group. A. - progressive decrease of the MEP amplitude throughout the stimulation session to a near complete abolition. B. - irregularity of the amplitude and the waveform of the MEP in a chaotic form. The MEP latency remained stable during the whole stimulation session. The MEP abnormalities recovered gradually over the period of a few months. The higher threshold of the motor response to STMS and the abnormal patterns of the MEP to RTMS seem to reflect transient impairment of cortical excitability or 'cortical fatigue' in patients who sustained minor head injures. Further study is needed to evaluated the extent and the pathophysiological mechanisms of the central nervous system fatigue phenomenon following head injury.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)467-472
Number of pages6
JournalActa Neurochirurgica
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Excitability
  • Minor head injury
  • Motor evoked potential
  • Transcranial magnetic stimulation


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