The purpose of this study was to assess the relationship between peripheral muscle responses (motor evoked potentials, MEP) evoked by transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and the early components of the TMS-evoked EEG response, both of which reflect cortical excitability. Left primary motor cortex of five healthy volunteers was stimulated with 100% of the motor threshold. The relationship between MEP amplitudes and the peak-to-peak amplitudes of the N15–P30 complex of the evoked EEG signal was determined at the single-trial level. MEP and N15–P30 amplitudes were significantly correlated in all five subjects. The results support the view that the amount of direct activation of neurons in M1 evoked by TMS affects both subsequent cortical activation and the activation of the target muscle. Cortical excitability is altered in some neuronal disorders and modulated locally during various tasks. It could thus be used as a marker of the state of health in many cases and as a method to study brain function. The present results improve our understanding of the early components of the TMS-evoked EEG signal, which reflect cortical excitability, and may thus have widespread use in clinical and scientific studies.
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