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Subthreshold repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation drives structural synaptic plasticity in the young and aged motor cortex


Tang, AD and Bennett, W and Bindoff, AD and Bolland, S and Collins, J and Langley, RC and Garry, MI and Summers, JJ and Hinder, MR and Rodger, J and Canty, AJ, Subthreshold repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation drives structural synaptic plasticity in the young and aged motor cortex, Brain Stimulation, 14 pp. 1498-1507. ISSN 1935-861X (2021) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright Statement

2021 Published by Elsevier Inc. This is an open access article under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) license (

DOI: doi:10.1016/j.brs.2021.10.001


Background: Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) is a non-invasive tool commonly used to drive neural plasticity in the young adult and aged brain. Recent data from mouse models have shown that even at subthreshold intensities (0.12 T), rTMS can drive neuronal and glial plasticity in the motor cortex. However, the physiological mechanisms underlying subthreshold rTMS induced plasticity and whether these are altered with normal ageing are unclear.

Objective: To assess the effect of subthreshold rTMS, using the intermittent theta burst stimulation (iTBS) protocol on structural synaptic plasticity in the mouse motor cortex of young and aged mice.

Methods: Longitudinal in vivo 2-photon microscopy was used to measure changes to the structural plasticity of pyramidal neuron dendritic spines in the motor cortex following a single train of subthreshold rTMS (in young adult and aged animals) or the same rTMS train administered on 4 consecutive days (in young adult animals only). Data were analysed with Bayesian hierarchical generalized linear regression models and interpreted with the aid of Bayes Factors (BF).

Results: We found strong evidence (BF > 10) that subthreshold rTMS altered the rate of dendritic spine losses and gains, dependent on the number of stimulation sessions and that a single session of subthreshold rTMS was effective in driving structural synaptic plasticity in both young adult and aged mice.

Conclusion: These findings provide further evidence that rTMS drives synaptic plasticity in the brain and uncovers structural synaptic plasticity as a key mechanism of subthreshold rTMS induced plasticity.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:plasticity, ageing, brain stimulation, repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation, intermittent theta burst stimulation, structural synaptic plasticity, motor cortex ageing
Research Division:Biomedical and Clinical Sciences
Research Group:Neurosciences
Research Field:Neurosciences not elsewhere classified
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Specific population health (excl. Indigenous health)
Objective Field:Health related to ageing
UTAS Author:Bennett, W (Dr Bill Bennett)
UTAS Author:Bindoff, AD (Mr Aidan Bindoff)
UTAS Author:Collins, J (Dr Jessica Collins)
UTAS Author:Langley, RC (Mr Ross Langley)
UTAS Author:Garry, MI (Associate Professor Michael Garry)
UTAS Author:Summers, JJ (Professor Jeffery Summers)
UTAS Author:Hinder, MR (Associate Professor Mark Hinder)
UTAS Author:Canty, AJ (Associate Professor Alison Canty)
ID Code:147432
Year Published:2021
Funding Support:Australian Research Council (FT150100406)
Web of Science® Times Cited:3
Deposited By:Psychology
Deposited On:2021-11-01
Last Modified:2021-12-01
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