Effects of theta burst stimulation on referred phantom sensations in patients with spinal cord injury

Raffaele Nardone*, Pierpaolo De Blasi, Yvonne Höller, Alexandra C. Taylor, Francesco Brigo, Eugen Trinka

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


To further explore the mechanisms underlying cortical reorganization in patients with phantom sensations after deafferentation, a repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation study was carried out in two patients with referred phantom sensations (RPS) after incomplete spinal cord injury at the thoracic level. We delivered continuous (inhibitory), intermittent (excitatory), and placebo theta burst stimulation to the contralateral primary motor cortex (M1), primary somatosensory cortex (S1), and secondary somatosensory cortex (S2). Perception of RPS was significantly and transiently disrupted by inhibitory theta burst stimulation applied over S1 and, to a lesser extent, S2. This study supports the hypothesis that RPS depend on remapping in the somatosensory cortex and provides further electrophysiological evidence in vivo that cortical reorganizational processes are critically modulated by GABAergic mechanisms. Enhancement of GABAergic activity may block cortical reorganization, leading to RPS in spinal cord injury patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)209-212
Number of pages4
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2016 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.

Other keywords

  • Deafferentation
  • Phantom sensations
  • Referred
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Theta burst stimulation
  • Transcortical magnetic stimulation
  • γ-aminobutyric acid


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