Journal of Medical and Biological Engineering

, Volume 35, Issue 1, pp 62–68 | Cite as

Novel Use of Theta Burst Cortical Electrical Stimulation for Modulating Motor Plasticity in Rats

  • Tsung-Hsun Hsieh
  • Ying-Zu Huang
  • Jia-Jin J. Chen
  • Alexander Rotenberg
  • Yung-Hsiao Chiang
  • Wan-Shan Chang Chien
  • Vincent Chang
  • Jia-Yi WangEmail author
  • Chih-Wei PengEmail author
Original Article


Various forms of cortical stimulation are capable of modulating motor cortical excitability through plasticity-like mechanisms and thus might have therapeutic potential for neurological diseases. To better understand the neural mechanism underlying the cortical neuromodulation effects and to enable translational research in rodent disease models, we developed a focused brain stimulation method using cortical electrical stimulation (CES) on the motor cortex in anesthetized rats. A specific stimulation scheme using theta burst stimulation (TBS) was then adopted to observe the facilitatory and inhibitory effects in motor cortical excitability. Adult male Sprague–Dawley rats were used for all experiments. Under urethane anesthesia, two epidural stainless steel screw electrodes were unilaterally implanted over the primary motor cortex targeting the forelimb area. Brachioradialis motor evoked potentials (MEPs) were obtained by single-pulse CES. Acute MEP changes were measured before and after intermittent and continuous TBS (iTBS and cTBS). For sham intervention, electrodes were implanted, but no TBS was delivered. To examine TBS-elicited plasticity responses, MEP amplitude was measured at baseline and for 30 min after iTBS or cTBS. The MEPs were significantly enhanced immediately after iTBS (p = 0.001) and remained enhanced for 30 min (p < 0.001) compared to the baseline MEP. Similarly, the MEPs were suppressed in 5 min (p = 0.035) and lasted for 30 min or more (p < 0.001) after cTBS. No effect was noted on the MEP magnitude in rats under sham stimulation (p > 0.05). The developed TBS scheme uses the focused CES method to produce consistent, rapid, and controllable electrophysiological changes in the motor cortex. In particular, the cortical plasticity can be modulated in rat models via the CES–TBS protocols. These findings may have translational relevance for establishing new therapeutic CES applications in neurological disorders.


Long-term potentiation Long-term depression Plasticity Cortical electrical stimulation (CES) Theta burst stimulation (TBS) 



This study was funded by the National Health Research Institutes of Taiwan (NHRI-EX102-10139E, NHRI-EX100-9913EC), the Ministry of Science and Technology of Taiwan (NSC 100-2314-B-182A-001-MY2, NSC 100-2320-B038-003-MY3, NSC 101-2632-B038-001-MY3, NSC 102-2314-B038-023-MY3, NSC 102-2321-B-038-008, MOST 103-2320-B038-056-MY2) and the Taipei Medical University (TMU103-AE1-B01).


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Copyright information

© Taiwanese Society of Biomedical Engineering 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tsung-Hsun Hsieh
    • 1
    • 2
  • Ying-Zu Huang
    • 3
  • Jia-Jin J. Chen
    • 4
  • Alexander Rotenberg
    • 5
  • Yung-Hsiao Chiang
    • 1
    • 6
  • Wan-Shan Chang Chien
    • 4
  • Vincent Chang
    • 1
  • Jia-Yi Wang
    • 7
    Email author
  • Chih-Wei Peng
    • 8
    • 9
    Email author
  1. 1.Graduate Institute of Neural Regenerative Medicine, College of Medical Science and Technology, Center for Neurotrauma and NeuroregenerationTaipei Medical UniversityTaipeiTaiwan
  2. 2.Department of Physical Therapy and Graduate Institute of Rehabilitation Science, College of Medicine and Healthy Aging Research CenterChang Gung UniversityTaoyuanTaiwan
  3. 3.Department of NeurologyChang Gung Memorial Hospital and Chang Gung University College of MedicineTaipeiTaiwan
  4. 4.Department of Biomedical EngineeringNational Cheng Kung UniversityTainanTaiwan
  5. 5.Department of Neurology, Boston Children’s HospitalHarvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  6. 6.Department of NeurosurgeryTaipei Medical University HospitalTaipeiTaiwan
  7. 7.Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences, College of MedicineTaipei Medical UniversityTaipeiTaiwan
  8. 8.Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, School of Medicine, College of MedicineTaipei Medical UniversityTaipeiTaiwan
  9. 9.Department of Physical Medicine and RehabilitationTaipei Medical University HospitalTaipeiTaiwan

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