The effects of individualised intermittent theta burst stimulation in the prefrontal cortex: A TMS-EEG study

Sung Wook Chung*, Caley M. Sullivan, Nigel C. Rogasch, Kate E. Hoy, Neil W. Bailey, Robin F.H. Cash, Paul B. Fitzgerald

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Citations (Scopus)


Recent studies have highlighted variability in response to theta burst stimulation (TBS) in humans. TBS paradigm was originally developed in rodents to mimic gamma bursts coupled with theta rhythms, and was shown to elicit long-term potentiation. The protocol was subsequently adapted for humans using standardised frequencies of stimulation. However, each individual has different rhythmic firing pattern. The present study sought to explore whether individualised intermittent TBS (Ind iTBS) could outperform the effects of two other iTBS variants. Twenty healthy volunteers received iTBS over left prefrontal cortex using 30 Hz at 6 Hz, 50 Hz at 5 Hz, or individualised frequency in separate sessions. Ind iTBS was determined using theta-gamma coupling during the 3-back task. Concurrent use of transcranial magnetic stimulation and electroencephalography (TMS-EEG) was used to track changes in cortical plasticity. We also utilised mood ratings using a visual analogue scale and assessed working memory via the 3-back task before and after stimulation. No group-level effect was observed following either 30 or 50 Hz iTBS in TMS-EEG. Ind iTBS significantly increased the amplitude of the TMS-evoked P60, and decreased N100 and P200 amplitudes. A significant positive correlation between neurophysiological change and change in mood rating was also observed. Improved accuracy in the 3-back task was observed following both 50 Hz and Ind iTBS conditions. These findings highlight the critical importance of frequency in the parameter space of iTBS. Tailored stimulation parameters appear more efficacious than standard paradigms in neurophysiological and mood changes. This novel approach presents a promising option and benefits may extend to clinical applications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)608-627
Number of pages20
JournalHuman Brain Mapping
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2019
Externally publishedYes


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