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Schecklmann, Martin; Volberg, Gregor; Frank, Gabriele; Hadersdorfer, Julia; Steffens, Thomas; Weisz, Nathan; Landgrebe, Michael; Hajak, Göran; Greenlee, Mark; Classen, Joseph and Langguth, Berthold (2011): Paired associative stimulation of the auditory system: a proof-of-principle study.
In: PLOS ONE 6(11), e27088 [PDF, 1MB]

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Paired associative stimulation (PAS) consisting of repeated application of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) pulses and contingent exteroceptive stimuli has been shown to induce neuroplastic effects in the motor and somatosensory system. The objective was to investigate whether the auditory system can be modulated by PAS. Acoustic stimuli (4 kHz) were paired with TMS of the auditory cortex with intervals of either 45 ms (PAS(45 ms)) or 10 ms (PAS(10 ms)). Two-hundred paired stimuli were applied at 0.1 Hz and effects were compared with low frequency repetitive TMS (rTMS) at 0.1 Hz (200 stimuli) and 1 Hz (1000 stimuli) in eleven healthy students. Auditory cortex excitability was measured before and after the interventions by long latency auditory evoked potentials (AEPs) for the tone (4 kHz) used in the pairing, and a control tone (1 kHz) in a within subjects design. Amplitudes of the N1-P2 complex were reduced for the 4 kHz tone after both PAS(45 ms) and PAS(10 ms), but not after the 0.1 Hz and 1 Hz rTMS protocols with more pronounced effects for PAS(45 ms). Similar, but less pronounced effects were observed for the 1 kHz control tone. These findings indicate that paired associative stimulation may induce tonotopically specific and also tone unspecific human auditory cortex plasticity.

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