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Coincident pairing of presynaptic and postsynaptic activity selectively strengthens synaptic connections, a key mechanism underlying cortical plasticity. Using paired associative transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), we demonstrate selective potentiation of physiological connectivity between two human brain regions, ventral premotor cortex (PMv) and primary motor cortex (M1) after repeated paired-pulse TMS of PMv and M1. The effect was anatomically specific: paired stimulation of the presupplementary motor area and M1 did not induce changes in PMv-M1 pathway connectivity. The effect was dependent on stimulation order: repeated stimulation of PMv before M1 led to strengthening of the PMv-M1 pathway, while repeated stimulation of M1 before PMv diminished the strength of the PMv-M1 pathway. The expression of the change in the pathway depended on the cognitive state of the subject at the time of testing: when the subject was tested at rest, paired PMv-M1 stimulation led to an increased inhibitory influence of PMv over M1, but when the subject was tested while engaged in a visuomotor task, PMv-M1 stimulation led to an increased facilitatory influence of PMv over M1. Plasticity evolved rapidly, lasted for at least 1 h, and began to reverse 3 h after intervention.

Original publication




Journal article


J Neurosci

Publication Date





17669 - 17679


Adult, Brain Mapping, Electromyography, Evoked Potentials, Motor, Female, Hand Strength, Humans, Male, Motor Cortex, Movement, Neural Pathways, Neuronal Plasticity, Psychomotor Performance, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation