The diagnosis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) relies on involvement of both upper (UMN) lower motor neurons (LMN). Yet, there remains no objective marker of UMN involvement, limiting early diagnosis of ALS. This study establishes whether TMS combined with EEG can be used to measure short-interval intracortical inhibition (SICI) via TMS evoked potentials (TEP) in healthy volunteers - an essential first step in developing an independent marker of UMN involvement in ALS. We hypothesised that a SICI paradigm would result in characteristic changes in the TMS-evoked EEG potentials that directly mirror the changes in MEP. TMS was delivered to the left motor cortex using single-pulse and three inhibitory stimulation paradigms. SICI was present in all three conditions. TEP peaks were reduced predominantly under the SICI 70 protocol but less so for SICI 80 and not at all for SICI 90. There was a significant negative correlation between MEPs and N45 TEP peak for SICI 70 (rho = -0.54 , p = 0.04). In other words, as MEPs becomes inhibited the N45 increases. The same trend was maintained across SICI 80 and 90 (SICI 80, rho = -0.5, p = 0.06; SICI 90, rho = -0.48, p = 0.07). Additional experiments suggest these results cannot be explained by artefact. We establish that motor cortical inhibition can be measured during a SICI 70 protocol expanding on previous work. We have carefully considered the role of artefact in TEPs and have taken a number of steps to show that artefact cannot explain these results and we suggesting the differences are cortical in origin. TMS-EEG has potential to aid early diagnosis and to further understand central and peripheral pathophysiology in MND.
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