Publications by authors named "Elias Paolo Casula"

13 Publications

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Evidence for interhemispheric imbalance in stroke patients as revealed by combining transcranial magnetic stimulation and electroencephalography.

Hum Brain Mapp 2021 Apr 13;42(5):1343-1358. Epub 2021 Jan 13.

Non-Invasive Brain Stimulation Unit/Department of Behavioral and Clinical Neurology, Santa Lucia Foundation, Rome, Italy.

Interhemispheric interactions in stroke patients are frequently characterized by abnormalities, in terms of balance and inhibition. Previous results showed an impressive variability, mostly given to the instability of motor-evoked potentials when evoked from the affected hemisphere. We aim to find reliable interhemispheric measures in stroke patients with a not-evocable motor-evoked potential from the affected hemisphere, by combining transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and electroencephalography. Ninteen stroke patients (seven females; 61.26 ± 9.8 years) were studied for 6 months after a first-ever stroke in the middle cerebral artery territory. Patients underwent four evaluations: clinical, cortical, corticospinal, and structural. To test the reliability of our measures, the evaluations were repeated after 3 weeks. To test the sensitivity, 14 age-matched healthy controls were compared to stroke patients. In stroke patients, stimulation of the affected hemisphere did not result in any inhibition onto the unaffected. The stimulation of the unaffected hemisphere revealed a preservation of the inhibition mechanism onto the affected. This resulted in a remarkable interhemispheric imbalance, whereas this mechanism was steadily symmetric in healthy controls. This result was stable when cortical evaluation was repeated after 3 weeks. Importantly, patients with a better recovery of the affected hand strength were the ones with a more stable interhemispheric balance. Finally, we found an association between microstructural integrity of callosal fibers, suppression of interhemispheric TMS-evoked activity and interhemispheric connectivity. We provide direct and sensitive cortical measures of interhemispheric imbalance in stroke patients. These measures offer a reliable means of distinguishing healthy and pathological interhemispheric dynamics.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/hbm.25297DOI Listing
April 2021

Cerebellar Intermittent Theta-Burst Stimulation Combined with Vestibular Rehabilitation Improves Gait and Balance in Patients with Multiple Sclerosis: a Preliminary Double-Blind Randomized Controlled Trial.

Cerebellum 2020 Dec;19(6):897-901

Santa Lucia Foundation IRCCS, Via Ardeatina, 306, 00179, Rome, Italy.

Difficulties in gait and balance disorders are among the most common mobility limitations in multiple sclerosis (MS), mainly due to a damage of cerebellar circuits. Moreover, the cerebellum plays a critical role in promoting new motor tasks, which is an essential function for neurorehabilitation. In this study, we investigated the effects of cerebellar intermittent theta burst stimulation (c-iTBS), a high-frequency rTMS protocol able to increase cerebellar activity, on gait and balance in a sample of 20 hospitalized participants with MS, undergoing vestibular rehabilitation (VR), an exercise-based program primarily designed to reduce vertigo and dizziness, gaze instability, and/or imbalance and falls in MS. Patients were assigned to receive either c-iTBS or sham iTBS before being treated with VR during 2 weeks. VR consisted of two types of training: gaze stability and postural stability exercises. The primary outcome measure was the change from baseline in the Tinetti Balance and Gait scale (TBG). The secondary outcome measures were changes from baseline in Berg Balance Scale (BBS), Fatigue Severity Scale (FSS), Two Minute Walking Test (2MWT), and Timed 25-ft walk test (T25FW) scales. MS patients treated with c-iTBS-VR showed a significant improvement in the TBG as compared to patients treated with sham iTBS-VR. Moreover, MS patients in the c-iTBS groups showed better performances in the vestibular-ocular reflex exercises. Combined c-iTBS and VR improves gait and balance abilities more than standard VR treatment in MS patients with a high level of disability.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s12311-020-01166-yDOI Listing
December 2020

Effect of Rotigotine vs Placebo on Cognitive Functions Among Patients With Mild to Moderate Alzheimer Disease: A Randomized Clinical Trial.

JAMA Netw Open 2020 07 1;3(7):e2010372. Epub 2020 Jul 1.

Department of Behavioral and Clinical Neurology, Santa Lucia Foundation Istituto di Ricerca e Cura a Carattere Scientifico (IRCCS), Rome, Italy.

Importance: Impairment of dopaminergic transmission may contribute to cognitive dysfunction in Alzheimer disease (AD).

Objective: To investigate whether therapy with dopaminergic agonists may affect cognitive functions in patients with AD.

Design, Setting, And Participants: This phase 2, monocentric, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial was conducted in Italy. Patients with mild to moderate AD were enrolled between September 1, 2017, and December 31, 2018. Data were analyzed from July 1 to September 1, 2019.

Interventions: A rotigotine 2 mg transdermal patch for 1 week followed by a 4 mg patch for 23 weeks (n = 47) or a placebo transdermal patch for 24 weeks (n = 47).

Main Outcomes And Measures: The primary end point was change from baseline on the Alzheimer Disease Assessment Scale-Cognitive Subscale. Secondary end points were changes in Frontal Assessment Battery, Alzheimer Disease Cooperative Study-Activities of Daily Living, and Neuropsychiatric Inventory scores. Prefrontal cortex activity was evaluated by transcranial magnetic stimulation combined with electroencephalography.

Results: Among 94 patients randomized (mean [SD] age, 73.9 [5.6] years; 58 [62%] women), 78 (83%) completed the study. Rotigotine, as compared with placebo, had no significant effect on the primary end point: estimated mean change in Alzheimer Disease Assessment Scale-Cognitive Subscale score was 2.92 (95% CI, 2.51-3.33) for the rotigotine group and 2.66 (95% CI, 2.31-3.01) for the placebo group. For the secondary outcomes, there were significant estimated mean changes between groups for Alzheimer Disease Cooperative Study-Activities of Daily Living score (-3.32 [95% CI, -4.02 to -2.62] for rotigotine and -7.24 [95% CI, -7.84 to -6.64] for placebo) and Frontal Assessment Battery score (0.48 [95% CI, 0.31 to 0.65] for rotigotine and -0.66 [95% CI, -0.80 to -0.52] for placebo). There was no longitudinal change in Neuropsychiatric Inventory scores (1.64 [95% CI, 1.06-2.22] for rotigotine and 1.26 [95% CI, 0.77-1.75] for placebo group). Neurophysiological analysis of electroencephalography results indicated that prefrontal cortical activity increased in rotigotine but not in the placebo group. Adverse events were more common in the rotigotine group, with 11 patients dropping out compared with 5 in the placebo group.

Conclusions And Relevance: In this randomized clinical trial, rotigotine treatment did not significantly affect global cognition in patients with mild to moderate AD; however, improvement was observed in cognitive functions highly associated with the frontal lobe and in activities of daily living. These findings suggest that treatment with the dopaminergic agonist rotigotine may reduce symptoms associated with frontal lobe cognitive dysfunction and thus may delay the impairment of activities of daily living.

Trial Registration: ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT03250741.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.10372DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7364345PMC
July 2020

Effects of Palmitoylethanolamide Combined with Luteoline on Frontal Lobe Functions, High Frequency Oscillations, and GABAergic Transmission in Patients with Frontotemporal Dementia.

J Alzheimers Dis 2020 ;76(4):1297-1308

Santa Lucia Foundation, IRCCS, Rome, Italy.

Background: Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) is a presenile neurodegenerative disease for which there is no effective pharmacological treatment. Recently, a link has been proposed between neuroinflammation and FTD.

Objective: Here, we aim to investigate the effects of palmitoylethanolamide (PEA) combined with luteoline (PEA-LUT), an endocannabinoid with anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effects, on behavior, cognition, and cortical activity in a sample of FTD patients.

Methods: Seventeen patients with a diagnosis of probable FTD were enrolled. Cognitive and neurophysiological evaluations were performed at baseline and after 4 weeks of PEA-LUT 700 mg×2/day. Cognitive effects were assessed by Neuropsychiatric Inventory (NPI), Mini-Mental State Examination, Frontal Assessment Battery (FAB), Screening for Aphasia in Neurodegeneration, Activities of Daily Living-Instrumental Activities of Daily Living, and Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration-modified Clinical Dementia Rating scale. To investigate in vivo neurophysiological effects of PEA-LUT, we used repetitive and paired-pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) protocols assessing LTP-like cortical plasticity, short-interval intracortical inhibition, long-interval intracortical inhibition (LICI), and short-latency afferent inhibition. Moreover, we used TMS combined with EEG to evaluate the effects on frontal lobe cortical oscillatory activity.

Results: Treatment with PEA-LUT was associated with an improvement in NPI and FAB scores. Neurophysiological evaluation showed a restoration of LICI, in particular at ISI 100 ms, suggesting a modulation of GABA(B) activity. TMS-EEG showed a remarkable increase of TMS-evoked frontal lobe activity and of high-frequency oscillations in the beta/gamma range.

Conclusion: PEA-LUT could reduce behavioral disturbances and improve frontal lobe functions in FTD patients through the modulation of cortical oscillatory activity and GABA(B)ergic transmission.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3233/JAD-200426DOI Listing
January 2020

LTP-like cortical plasticity predicts conversion to dementia in patients with memory impairment.

Brain Stimul 2020 Sep - Oct;13(5):1175-1182. Epub 2020 May 30.

Non Invasive Brain Stimulation Unit/Department of Behavioral and Clinical Neurology, Santa Lucia Foundation IRCCS, Rome, Italy; Section of Human Physiology, ECampus University, Novedrate, Italy. Electronic address:

Background: New diagnostic criteria consider Alzheimer's disease (AD) as a clinico-biological entity identifiable in vivo on the presence of specific patterns of CSF biomarkers.

Objective: Here we used transcranial magnetic stimulation to investigate the mechanisms of cortical plasticity and sensory-motor integration in patients with hippocampal-type memory impairment admitted for the first time in the memory clinic stratified according to CSF biomarkers profile.

Methods: Seventy-three patients were recruited and divided in three groups according to the new diagnostic criteria: 1) Mild Cognitive Impaired (MCI) patients (n = 21); Prodromal AD (PROAD) patients (n = 24); AD with manifest dementia (ADD) patients (n = 28). At time of recruitment all patients underwent CSF sampling for diagnostic purposes. Repetitive and paired-pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation protocols were performed to investigate LTP-like and LTD-like cortical plasticity, short intracortical inhibition (SICI) and short afferent inhibition (SAI). Patients were the followed up during three years to monitor the clinical progression or the conversion to dementia.

Results: MCI patients showed a moderate but significant impairment of LTP-like cortical plasticity, while ADD and PROAD groups showed a more severe loss of LTP-like cortical plasticity. No differences were observed for LTD-like cortical plasticity, SICI and SAI protocols. Kaplan-Meyer analyses showed that PROAD and MCI patients converting to dementia had weaker LTP-like plasticity at time of first evaluation.

Conclusion: LTP-like cortical plasticity could be a novel biomarker to predict the clinical progression to dementia in patients with memory impairment at prodromal stages of AD identifiable with the new diagnostic criteria based on CSF biomarkers.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.brs.2020.05.013DOI Listing
May 2020

Intermittent Cerebellar Theta Burst Stimulation Improves Visuo-motor Learning in Stroke Patients: a Pilot Study.

Cerebellum 2020 Oct;19(5):739-743

Non Invasive Brain Stimulation Unit/Department of Behavioral and Clinical Neurology, Santa Lucia Foundation IRCCS, Rome, Italy.

The cerebellum plays a critical role in promoting learning of new motor tasks, which is an essential function for motor recovery. Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) of the cerebellum can be used to enhance learning. In this study, we investigated the effects of cerebellar intermittent theta burst stimulation (c-iTBS), a high-frequency rTMS protocol, on visuo-motor learning in a sample of hemiparetic patients due to recent stroke in the territory of the contralateral middle cerebral artery. Eight stroke patients were enrolled for the purposes of the study in the chronic stage of recovery (i.e., at least 6 months after stroke). In two sessions, Patients were randomly assigned to treatment with real or sham c-iTBS applied over the cerebellar hemisphere ipsilateral to the affected body side. c-iTBS was applied immediately before the learning phase of a visuo-motor adaptation task. Real, but not sham, c-iTBS improved visuo-motor learning as revealed by an increased performance in of the learning phase of the visuo-moto adaptation task. Moreover, we also found that real but not sham c-iTBS induced a sustained improvement in the re-adaptation of the recently learned skill (i.e., when patients were re-tested after 30 min). Taken together, these data point to c-iTBS as a potential novel strategy to promote motor learning in patients with stroke.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s12311-020-01146-2DOI Listing
October 2020

Improving visuo-motor learning with cerebellar theta burst stimulation: Behavioral and neurophysiological evidence.

Neuroimage 2020 03 30;208:116424. Epub 2019 Nov 30.

Non Invasive Brain Stimulation Unit/Department of Behavioral and Clinical Neurology, Santa Lucia Foundation IRCCS, Rome, Italy.

The cerebellum is strongly implicated in learning new motor skills. Theta burst stimulation (TBS), a form of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation, can be used to influence cerebellar activity. Our aim was to explore the potential of cerebellar TBS in modulating visuo-motor adaptation, a form of motor learning, in young healthy subjects. Cerebellar TBS was applied immediately before the learning phase of a visuo-motor adaptation task (VAT), in two different experiments. Firstly, we evaluated the behavioral effects of continuous (cTBS), intermittent (iTBS) or sham TBS on the learning, re-adaptation and de-adaptation phases of VAT. Subsequently, we investigated the changes induced by iTBS or sham TBS on motor cortical activity related to each phase of VAT, as measured by concomitant TMS/EEG recordings. We found that cerebellar TBS induced a robust bidirectional modulation of the VAT performance. More specifically, cerebellar iTBS accelerated visuo-motor adaptation, by speeding up error reduction in response to a novel perturbation. This gain of function was still maintained when the novel acquired motor plan was tested during a subsequent phase of re-adaptation. On the other hand, cerebellar cTBS induced the opposite effect, slowing the rate of error reduction in both learning and re-adaptation phases. Additionally, TMS/EEG recordings showed that cerebellar iTBS induced specific changes of cortical activity in the interconnected motor networks. The improved performance was accompanied by an increase of TMS-evoked cortical activity and a generalized desynchronization of TMS-evoked cortical oscillations. Taken together, our behavioral and neurophysiological findings provide the first-time multimodal evidence of the potential efficacy of cerebellar TBS in improving motor learning, by promoting successful cerebellar-cortical reorganization.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2019.116424DOI Listing
March 2020

Novel TMS-EEG indexes to investigate interhemispheric dynamics in humans.

Clin Neurophysiol 2020 01 24;131(1):70-77. Epub 2019 Oct 24.

Non-Invasive Brain Stimulation Unit/Department of Behavioral and Clinical Neurology, Santa Lucia Foundation, Via Ardeatina 354, 00179 Rome, Italy; Department of System Medicine, University of Tor Vergata, Via Oxford 81, 00133 Rome, Italy.

Objective: To validate two indexes of interhemispheric signal propagation (ISP) and balance (IHB) by combining transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and electroencephalography (EEG).

Methods: We used TMS-EEG to non-invasively stimulate the two hemispheres of 50 healthy volunteers and measured interhemispheric dynamics in terms of ISP and IHB. We repeated our evaluation after three weeks to assess the reliability of our indexes. We also tested whether our TMS-EEG measures were correlated with traditional interhemispheric inhibition (IHI), as measured with motor-evoked potentials (MEPs).

Results: Our main results showed that ISP and IHB (1) have a high reproducibility among all the participants tested; (2) have a high test-retest reliability (3) are linearly correlated with IHI, as measured with MEPs.

Conclusions: The main contribution of this study lies in the proposal of new TMS-EEG cortical measures of interhemispheric dynamics and in their validation in terms of intra- and inter-subject reliability. We also provide the first demonstration of the correlation between ISP and IHI.

Significance: Our results are relevant for the investigation of interhemispheric dynamics in clinical populations where MEPs are not reliable.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.clinph.2019.09.013DOI Listing
January 2020

Effect of Cerebellar Stimulation on Gait and Balance Recovery in Patients With Hemiparetic Stroke: A Randomized Clinical Trial.

JAMA Neurol 2019 02;76(2):170-178

Non Invasive Brain Stimulation Unit/Department of Behavioral and Clinical Neurology, Santa Lucia Foundation IRCCS, Rome, Italy.

Importance: Gait and balance impairment is associated with poorer functional recovery after stroke. The cerebellum is known to be strongly implicated in the functional reorganization of motor networks in patients with stroke, especially for gait and balance functions.

Objective: To determine whether cerebellar intermittent θ-burst stimulation (CRB-iTBS) can improve balance and gait functions in patients with hemiparesis due to stroke.

Design, Setting, Participants: This randomized, double-blind, sham-controlled phase IIa trial investigated efficacy and safety of a 3-week treatment of CRB-iTBS coupled with physiotherapy in promoting gait and balance recovery in patients with stroke. Thirty-six patients with consecutive ischemic chronic stroke in the territory of the contralateral middle cerebral artery with hemiparesis were recruited from a neuro-rehabilitation hospital. Participants were screened and enrolled from March 2013 to June 2017. Intention-to-treat analysis was performed.

Interventions: Patients were randomly assigned to treatment with CRB-iTBS or sham iTBS applied over the cerebellar hemisphere ipsilateral to the affected body side immediately before physiotherapy daily during 3 weeks.

Main Outcomes And Measures: The primary outcome was the between-group difference in change from baseline in the Berg Balance Scale. Secondary exploratory measures included the between-group difference in change from baseline in Fugl-Meyer Assessment scale, Barthel Index, and locomotion assessment with gait analysis and cortical activity measured by transcranial magnetic stimulation in combination with electroencephalogram.

Results: A total of 34 patients (mean [SD] age, 64 [11.3] years; 13 women [38.2%]) completed the study. Patients treated with CRB-iTBS, but not with sham iTBS, showed an improvement of gait and balance functions, as revealed by a pronounced increase in the mean (SE) Berg Balance Scale score (baseline: 34.5 [3.4]; 3 weeks after treatment: 43.4 [2.6]; 3 weeks after the end of treatment: 47.5 [1.8]; P < .001). No overall treatment-associated differences were noted in the Fugl-Meyer Assessment (mean [SE], baseline: 163.8 [6.8]; 3 weeks after treatment: 171.1 [7.2]; 3 weeks after the end of treatment: 173.5 [6.9]; P > .05) and Barthel Index scores (mean [SE], baseline: 71.1 [4.92]; 3 weeks after treatment: 88.8 [2.1]; 3 weeks after the end of treatment: 92.2 [2.4]; P > .05). Patients treated with CRB-iTBS, but not sham iTBS, showed a reduction of step width at the gait analysis (mean [SE], baseline: 16.8 [4.8] cm; 3 weeks after treatment: 14.3 [6.2] cm; P < .05) and an increase of neural activity over the posterior parietal cortex.

Conclusions And Relevance: Cerebellar intermittent θ-burst stimulation promotes gait and balance recovery in patients with stroke by acting on cerebello-cortical plasticity. These results are important to increase the level of independent walking and reduce the risk of falling.

Trial Registration: ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT03456362.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1001/jamaneurol.2018.3639DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6439971PMC
February 2019

Dynamic reorganization of TMS-evoked activity in subcortical stroke patients.

Neuroimage 2018 07 7;175:365-378. Epub 2018 Apr 7.

Non-invasive Brain Stimulation Unit, Department of Behavioral and Clinical Neurology, Santa Lucia Foundation IRCCS, Rome, Italy; Stroke Unit, Tor Vergata Hospital, Rome, Italy. Electronic address:

Since early days after stroke, the brain undergoes a complex reorganization to allow compensatory mechanisms that promote functional recovery. However, these mechanisms are still poorly understood and there is urgent need to identify neurophysiological markers of functional recovery after stroke. Here we aimed to track longitudinally the time-course of cortical reorganization by measuring for the first time EEG cortical activity evoked by TMS pulses in patients with subcortical stroke. Thirteen patients in the sub-acute phase of ischemic subcortical stroke with motor symptoms completed the longitudinal study, being evaluated within 20 days and after 40, 60 and 180 days after stroke onset. For each time-point, EEG cortical activity evoked by single TMS pulses was assessed over the motor and parietal cortex of the affected and unaffected hemisphere. We evaluated global TMS-evoked activity and TMS-evoked oscillations in different frequency bands. These measurements were paralleled with clinical and behavioral assessment. We found that motor cortical activity measured by TMS-EEG varied across time in the affected hemisphere. An increase of TMS-evoked activity was evident at 40 days after stroke onset. Moreover, stroke patients showed a significant increase in TMS-evoked alpha oscillations, as highlighted performing analysis in the time-frequency domain. Notably, these changes indicated that crucial mechanisms of cortical reorganization occur in this short-time window. These changes coincided with the clinical improvement. TMS-evoked alpha oscillatory activity recorded at baseline was associated to better functional recovery at 40 and 60 days' follow-up evaluations, suggesting that the power of the alpha rhythm can be considered a good predictor of motor recovery. This study demonstrates that cortical activity increases dynamically in the early phases of recovery after stroke in the affected hemisphere. These findings point to TMS-evoked alpha oscillatory activity as a potential neurophysiological markers of stroke recovery and could be helpful to determine the temporal window in which neuromodulation should be potentially able to drive neuroplasticity in an effective functional direction.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2018.04.011DOI Listing
July 2018

Cerebellar theta burst stimulation modulates the neural activity of interconnected parietal and motor areas.

Sci Rep 2016 10 31;6:36191. Epub 2016 Oct 31.

Non Invasive Brain Stimulation Unit, Department of Behavioural and Clinical Neurology, Santa Lucia Foundation IRCCS, Rome, Italy.

Voluntary movement control and execution are regulated by the influence of the cerebellar output over different interconnected cortical areas, through dentato-thalamo connections. In the present study we applied transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and electroencephalography (EEG) to directly assess the effects of cerebellar theta-burst stimulation (TBS) over the controlateral primary motor cortex (M1) and posterior parietal cortex (PPC) in a group of healthy volunteers. We found a TBS-dependent bidirectional modulation over TMS-evoked activity; specifically, cTBS increased whereas iTBS decreased activity between 100 and 200 ms after TMS, in a similar manner over both M1 and PPC areas. On the oscillatory domain, TBS induced specific changes over M1 natural frequencies of oscillation: TMS-evoked alpha activity was decreased by cTBS whereas beta activity was enhanced by iTBS. No effects were observed after sham stimulation. Our data provide novel evidence showing that the cerebellum exerts its control on the cortex likely by impinging on specific set of interneurons dependent on GABA-ergic activity. We show that cerebellar TBS modulates cortical excitability of distant interconnected cortical areas by acting through common temporal, spatial and frequency domains.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/srep36191DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5086958PMC
October 2016

Subthalamic stimulation and levodopa modulate cortical reactivity in Parkinson's patients.

Parkinsonism Relat Disord 2017 01 17;34:31-37. Epub 2016 Oct 17.

Non-Invasive Brain Stimulation Unit, Neurologia Clinica e Comportamentale, Fondazione Santa Lucia IRCCS, Rome, Italy; Department of System Medicine, Policlinico di Tor Vergata, Rome, Italy; Stroke Unit, Policlinico Tor Vergata, Rome, Italy. Electronic address:

Background: The effects of deep brain stimulation of the subthalamic nucleus (DBS-STN) and L-dopa (LD) on cortical activity in Parkinson's disease (PD) are poorly understood.

Objectives: By combining transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and electroencephalography (EEG) we explored the effects of STN-DBS, either alone or in combination with L-Dopa (LD), on TMS-evoked cortical activity in a sample of implanted PD patients.

Methods: PD patients were tested in three clinical conditions: i) LD therapy with STN-DBS turned on (ON/ON condition); ii) without LD therapy with STN-DBS turned on (OFF/ON condition); iii) without LD therapy with STN-DBS turned off (OFF/OFF condition). TMS pulses were delivered over left M1 while simultaneously acquiring EEG. Eight age-matched healthy volunteers (HC) were tested as a control group.

Results: STN-DBS enhanced early global TMS-evoked activity (∼45-80ms) and high-alpha TMS-evoked oscillations (11-13 Hz) as compared to OFF/OFF condition, independently from concomitant LD therapy. LD intake (ON/ON condition) produced a further increase of late TMS-evoked activity (∼80-130ms) and beta TMS-evoked oscillations (13-30 Hz), as compared to OFF/OFF and OFF/ON conditions, that normalized reactivity as compared to HC range of values.

Conclusions: Our data reveal that bilateral STN-DBS and LD therapy induce a modulation of specific cortical components and specific ranges of frequency. These findings demonstrate that STN-DBS and LD therapy may have synergistic effects on motor cortical activity.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.parkreldis.2016.10.009DOI Listing
January 2017

Spike-timing-dependent plasticity in the human dorso-lateral prefrontal cortex.

Neuroimage 2016 Dec 31;143:204-213. Epub 2016 Aug 31.

Non Invasive Brain Stimulation Unit, Department of Behavioural and Clinical Neurology, Santa Lucia Foundation IRCCS, Rome 00179, Italy; Stroke Unit, Tor Vergata Policlinic, Rome 00133, Italy. Electronic address:

Changes in the synaptic strength of neural connections are induced by repeated coupling of activity of interconnected neurons with precise timing, a phenomenon known as spike-timing-dependent plasticity (STDP). It is debated if this mechanism exists in large-scale cortical networks in humans. We combined transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) with concurrent electroencephalography (EEG) to directly investigate the effects of two paired associative stimulation (PAS) protocols (fronto-parietal and parieto-frontal) of pre and post-synaptic inputs within the human fronto-parietal network. We found evidence that the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) has the potential to form robust STDP. Long-term potentiation/depression of TMS-evoked cortical activity is prompted after that DLPFC stimulation is followed/preceded by posterior parietal stimulation. Such bidirectional changes are paralleled by sustained increase/decrease of high-frequency oscillatory activity, likely reflecting STDP responsivity. The current findings could be important to drive plasticity of damaged cortical circuits in patients with cognitive or psychiatric disorders.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2016.08.060DOI Listing
December 2016