Excitatory and inhibitory corticospinal responses to transcranial magnetic stimulation in patients with minor to moderate head injury

A. V. Chistyakov, J. F. Soustiel, H. Hafner, M. Trubnik, G. Levy, M. Feinsod

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70 Scopus citations


Objectives - The changes in excitatory and inhibitory responses to transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), as attested by motor evoked potential (MEP) and silent period (SP) parameters, were compared in patients who sustained minor to moderate head injury. Methods - A total of 38 patients with brain concussion, and diffuse, focal, and combined brain injury and 20 healthy volunteers were examined. The MEPs and SPs were recorded from the abductor pollicis brevis muscle after single pulse TMS 2 weeks after head trauma. The parameters assessed were the MEP resting threshold, the MEP/M wave amplitude ratio, the central motor conduction time (CMCT), the SP threshold, the interthreshold difference (ITD), and the SP duration (SPD). Results - The main finding was an increase in the ITD in patients with mild and moderate head injury due to the relatively greater augmentation of the MEP threshold. This was associated with a reduction of the MEP/M wave amplitude ratio. The degree of MEP and SP changes depended on severity of head injury and was not related to the type of brain lesions. The SPD did not differ significantly in brain concussion, or diffuse, focal and combined brain injury groups compared with the control group. The CMCT was prolonged in patients with diffuse and combined brain lesions. Among subjective complaints only fatigue was significantly related to ITD, MEP, and SP threshold abnormalities. Conclusions - The results suggest that mechanisms involved in MEP and SP generation are differently affected in head injury, the first being impaired more severely. The increase of the ITD accompanied by reduction of the MEP/M wave amplitude ratio may reflect a dissociated impairment of inhibitory and excitatory components of central motor control in head trauma.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)580-587
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Head injury
  • Motor evoked potential
  • Silent period
  • Transcranial magnetic stimulation


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