Induction of Hebbian associative plasticity through paired non-invasive brain stimulation of premotor-motor areas to elucidate the network's functional role

Turrini, Sonia (2023) Induction of Hebbian associative plasticity through paired non-invasive brain stimulation of premotor-motor areas to elucidate the network's functional role, [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna. Dottorato di ricerca in Psychology, 35 Ciclo. DOI 10.48676/unibo/amsdottorato/10591.
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The ventral premotor cortex (PMv) is believed to play a pivotal role in a multitude of visuomotor behaviors, such as sensory-guided goal-directed visuomotor transformations, arbitrary visuomotor mapping, and hyper-learnt visuomotor associations underlying automatic imitative tendencies. All these functions are likely carried out through the copious projections connecting PMv to the primary motor cortex (M1). Yet, causal evidence investigating the functional relevance of the PMv-M1 network remains elusive and scarce. In the studies reported in this thesis we addressed this issue using a transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) protocol called cortico-cortical paired associative stimulation (ccPAS), which relies on multisite stimulation to induce Hebbian spike-timing dependent plasticity (STDP) by repeatedly stimulating the pathway connecting two target areas to manipulate their connectivity. Firstly, we show that ccPAS protocols informed by both short- and long-latency PMv-M1 interactions effectively modulate connectivity between the two nodes. Then, by pre-activating the network to apply ccPAS in a state-dependent manner, we were able to selectively target specific functional visuo-motor pathways, demonstrating the relevance of PMv-M1 connectivity to arbitrary visuomotor mapping. Subsequently, we addressed the PMv-to-M1 role in automatic imitation, and demonstrated that its connectivity manipulation has a corresponding impact on automatic imitative tendencies. Finally, by combining dual-coil TMS connectivity assessments and ccPAS in young and elderly individuals, we traced effective connectivity of premotor-motor networks and tested their plasticity and relevance to manual dexterity and force in healthy ageing. Our findings provide unprecedent causal evidence of the functional role of the PMv-to-M1 network in young and elderly individuals. The studies presented in this thesis suggest that ccPAS can effectively modulate the strength of connectivity between targeted areas, and coherently manipulate a networks’ behavioral output. Results open new research prospects into the causal role of cortico-cortical connectivity, and provide necessary information to the development of clinical interventions based on connectivity manipulation.

Tipologia del documento
Tesi di dottorato
Turrini, Sonia
Dottorato di ricerca
Settore disciplinare
Settore concorsuale
Parole chiave
Cortical plasticity, Motor System, TMS, cortico-cortical paired associative stimulation, premotor cortex
Data di discussione
27 Giugno 2023

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