Abnormal cortical synaptic plasticity in primary motor area in progressive supranuclear palsy

Antonella Conte, Daniele Belvisi, Matteo Bologna, Donatella Ottaviani, Giovanni Fabbrini, Carlo Colosimo, David R. Williams, Alfredo Berardelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


No study has yet investigated whether cortical plasticity in primary motor area (M1) is abnormal in patients with progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP). We studied M1 plasticity in 15 PSP patients and 15 age-matched healthy subjects. We used intermittent theta-burst stimulation (iTBS) to investigate long-term potentiation (LTP) and continuous TBS (cTBS) to investigate long-term depression (LTD)-like cortical plasticity in M1. Ten patients underwent iTBS again 1 year later. We also investigated short-interval intracortical inhibition (SICI) and intracortical facilitation (ICF) in M1 with paired-pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation, tested H reflex from upper limb flexor muscles before and after iTBS, and measured motor evoked potential (MEP) input-output (I/O) curves before and after iTBS. iTBS elicited a significantly larger MEP facilitation after iTBS in patients than in healthy subjects. Whereas in healthy subjects, cTBS inhibited MEP, in patients it significantly facilitated MEPs. In patients, SICI was reduced, whereas ICF was normal. H reflex size remained unchanged after iTBS. Patients had steeper MEP I/O slopes than healthy subjects at baseline and became even more steeper after iTBS only in patients. The iTBS-induced abnormal MEP facilitation in PSP persisted at 1-year follow-up. In conclusion, patients with PSP have abnormal M1 LTP/LTD-like plasticity. The enhanced LTP-like cortical synaptic plasticity parallels disease progression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)693-700
Number of pages8
JournalCerebral Cortex
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2012


  • cortical plasticity
  • motor cortex excitability
  • progressive supranuclear palsy
  • theta-burst stimulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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