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Title: Non-invasive associative plasticity induction in a cortico-cortical pathway of the human brain
Author: Johnen, Vanessa Mareike
ISNI:       0000 0004 5365 8068
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2014
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Associative plasticity, which involves modification of synaptic strength by coactivation of two synaptic inputs, has been demonstrated in many species. Here I explore whether it is possible to induce associative plasticity within a corticocortical pathway in the human brain using a novel protocol that activates two brain areas repeatedly with double-site transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). The pathway between ventral premotor cortex (PMv) and primary motor cortex (M1) which computes hand movements for precision grasp was manipulated. First, I selectively potentiated physiological connectivity between the stimulated brain areas. The effects as assessed with paired-pulse TMS were in accordance with principles of spike timing-dependent plasticity (STDP), pathwayspecific and showed a different pattern of expression during rest and during performance of a naturalistic prehension task. Furthermore, I demonstrated that effects evolved rapidly, lasted for up to three hours and were reversible. In a follow-up study, the protocol‘s effects on network interactions were investigated using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), specifically focussing on functional connectivity of network nodes within the wider parietofrontal circuit controlling reaching-and-grasping. The study demonstrated that functional connectivity was causally modified between stimulated nodes and that those changes in coupling also affected parallel, functionally-related pathways. Comparison of neurophysiological (paired-pulse TMS) and functional (fMRI) connectivity between individuals revealed a linear relationship of these connectivity indices; the first can assess the physiological nature of the interaction, whereas the latter can elucidate global network effects, making the techniques complementary. Neurophysiological interactions of ipsilesional and contralesional PMv-M1 were tested in chronic subcortical stroke patients during grasping. Patients showed a diminished facilitatory influence of ipsilesional PMv on M1 compared to healthy controls which might contribute to their motor disability. Application of paired-associative TMS “normalised“ the reduced effective influence of ipsilesional PMv on M1 and this effect correlated with the patient‘s potential to improve their dexterity.
Supervisor: Rushworth, Matthew F. S. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Neuroscience ; Behavioural Neuroscience ; neuroplasticity ; motor function ; brain stimulation ; stroke ; hand function ; neuroimaging ; connectivity