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TMS-induced plasticity enables targeted remodeling of cortical networks

Optical Imaging Group publishes in PNAS – see RUB Webpages for press release

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) holds promise as a tool for non-invasively facilitating plastic changes in cortical networks. However, highly resolved visualization of its modulatory effects remains elusive, because current neuroimaging techniques applicable in humans are limited in spatio-temporal resolution. Here we applied optical imaging using voltage-sensitive dye in an animal model and tracked, at submillimeter range, TMS-induced plastic changes across primary visual cortex. We show that high-frequency 10 Hz TMS induces a state where cortical maps are transiently “destabilized”. In turn, neurons were sensitized to a bias in input — here imposed by prolonged exposure to a single visual orientation — and primed to relearn connectivity patterns. These findings implicate an early post-TMS time window for promising therapeutic interventions through TMS.


The Institut für Neuroinformatik (INI) is a central research unit of the Ruhr-Universität Bochum. We aim to understand the fundamental principles through which organisms generate behavior and cognition while linked to their environments through sensory systems and while acting in those environments through effector systems. Inspired by our insights into such natural cognitive systems, we seek new solutions to problems of information processing in artificial cognitive systems. We draw from a variety of disciplines that include experimental approaches from psychology and neurophysiology as well as theoretical approaches from physics, mathematics, electrical engineering and applied computer science.

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