Introduction: Simultaneously acquiring functional Near Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS) during Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) offers the possibility of directly investigating superficial cortical brain activation and connectivity. In addition, the effects of rTMS in distinct brain regions without quantifiable behavioral changes can be objectively measured. Methods: Healthy, nonmedicated participants age 18-50 years were recruited from the local community. After written informed consent was obtained, the participants were screened to ensure that they met inclusion criteria. They underwent two visits of simultaneous rTMS/fNIRS separated by 2 to 3 days. In each visit, the motor cortex and subsequently the prefrontal cortex (5 cm anterior to the motor cortex) were stimulated (1 Hz, max 120% MT, 10 s on with 80 s off, for 15 trains) while simultaneous fNIRS data were acquired from the ipsilateral and contralateral brain regions. Results: Twelve healthy volunteers were enrolled with one excluded prior to stimulation. The 11 participants studied (9 male) had a mean age of 31.8 (s.d. 10.2, range 20-49) years. There was no significant difference in fNIRS between Visit 1 and Visit 2. Stimulation of both the motor and prefrontal cortices resulted in a significant decrease in oxygenated hemoglobin (HbO2) concentration in both the ipsilateral and contralateral cortices. The ipsilateral and contralateral changes showed high temporal consistency. Discussion: Simultaneous rTMS/fNIRS provides a reliable measure of regional cortical brain activation and connectivity that could be very useful in studying brain disorders as well as cortical changes induced by rTMS. © 2009 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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