Electrical & Computer Engineering, Department of


Date of this Version



Brain Stimulation 15 (2022) 833e842. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.brs.2022.05.017


Open acess.


Background: Theta burst stimulation (TBS) is an efficient noninvasive neuromodulation paradigm that has been widely adopted, clinically. However, the efficacy of TBS treatment remains similarly modest as conventional 10 Hz repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS).

Objective/hypothesis: To develop a new TBS paradigm that enhances the effects of TMS administration while maintaining high time-efficiency.

Methods: We describe here a new TMS paradigm, named High-Density Theta Burst Stimulation (hdTBS). This paradigm delivers up to 6 pulses per burst, as opposed to only 3 in conventional TBS, while maintaining the inter-burst interval of 200 ms (or 5 Hz) - a critical parameter in inducing long-term potentiation. This paradigm was implemented on a TMS stimulator developed in-house; its physiological effects were assessed in the motor cortex of awake rats using a rodent specific focal TMS coil. Microwire electrodes were implanted into each rat's limb muscles to longitudinally record motor-evoked potential (MEP). Four different TBS paradigms (3, 4, 5 or 6 pulses per burst, 200 s per session) were tested; MEP signals were recorded immediately before (baseline) and up to 35 min post each TBS session.

Results: We developed a stimulator based on a printed-circuit board strategy. The stimulator was able to deliver stable outputs of up to 6 pulses per burst. Animal experiments (n = 15) revealed significantly different aftereffects induced by the four TBS paradigms (Friedman test, p = 0.018). Post hoc analysis further revealed that, in comparison to conventional 3-pulse TBS, 5- and 6-pulse TBS enhanced the aftereffects of MEP signals by 56% and 92%, respectively, while maintaining identical time efficiency.

Conclusion(s): A new stimulation paradigm is proposed, implemented and tested in the motor cortex of awake rats using a focal TMS coil developed in the lab.We observed enhanced aftereffects as assessed by MEP, with no obvious adverse effects, suggesting the translational potentials of this paradigm.