In our latest study, we show that the effect of rTMS on structural plasticity critically depends on stimulation intensity, frequency, and duration and that recurrent inhibition can affect the outcome of rTMS-induced homeostatic structural plasticity.
Our findings emphasize the use of computational approaches for an optimized rTMS protocol design, which may support the development of more effective rTMS-based therapies
Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) is a non-invasive brain stimulation technique used to induce neuronal plasticity in healthy individuals and patients. Designing effective and reproducible rTMS protocols poses a major challenge in the field as the underlying biomechanisms of long-term effects remain elusive. Current clinical protocol designs are often based on studies reporting rTMS-induced long-term potentiation or depression of synaptic transmission. Herein, we employed computational modeling to explore the effects of rTMS on long-term structural plasticity and changes in network connectivity. We simulated a recurrent neuronal network with homeostatic structural plasticity among excitatory neurons, and demonstrated that this mechanism was sensitive to specific parameters of the stimulation protocol (i.e., frequency, intensity, and duration of stimulation). Particularly, the feedback-inhibition initiated by network stimulation influenced the net stimulation outcome and hindered the rTMS-induced structural reorganization, highlighting the role of inhibitory networks. These findings suggest a novel mechanism for the lasting effects of rTMS, i.e., rTMS-induced homeostatic structural plasticity, and highlight the importance of network inhibition in careful protocol design, standardization, and optimization of stimulation.
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