Transcranial magnetic stimulation and magnetic resonance spectroscopy: opportunities for a bimodal approach in human neuroscience
Over the last decade, there has been an increasing number of studies combining transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS). MRS provides a manner to non-invasively investigate molecular concentrations in the living brain and thus identify metabolites involved in physiological and pathological processes. Particularly the MRS-detectable metabolites glutamate, the major excitatory neurotransmitter, and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), the major inhibitory
... ransmitter, are of interest when combining TMS and MRS. TMS is a non-invasive brain stimulation technique that can be applied either as a neuromodulation or neurostimulation tool, specifically targeting glutamatergic and GABAergic mechanisms. The combination of TMS and MRS can be used to evaluate alterations in brain metabolite levels following an interventional TMS protocol such as repetitive TMS (rTMS) or paired associative stimulation (PAS). MRS can also be combined with a variety of non-interventional TMS protocols to identify the interplay between brain metabolite levels and measures of excitability or receptor-mediated inhibition and facilitation. In this review, we provide an overview of studies performed in healthy and patient populations combining MRS and TMS, both as a measurement tool and as an intervention. TMS and MRS may reveal complementary and comprehensive information on glutamatergic and GABAergic neurotransmission. Potentially, connectivity changes and dedicated network interactions can be probed using the combined TMS-MRS approach. Considering the ongoing technical developments in both fields, combined studies hold future promise for investigations of brain network interactions and neurotransmission.