Alterations in large scale neural networks leading to neurophysiological changes have been described in Parkinson’s disease (PD). The combination of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and electroencephalography (EEG) has been suggested as a promising tool to identify and quantify neurophysiological mechanisms. The aim of this study was to investigate specific changes in electrical brain activity in response to stimulation of four brain areas in patients with PD.
21 healthy controls and 32 patients with PD underwent a combined TMS-EEG assessment that included stimulation of four brain areas: left M1, right M1, left dorso-lateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), and right DLPFC. Six measures were calculated to characterize the TMS evoked potentials (TEP) using EEG: (1) wave form adherence (WFA), (2) late phase deflection (LPD), (3) early phase deflection (EPD), (4) short-term plasticity (STP), (5) inter-trial adherence, and (6) connectivity between right and left M1 and DLPFC. A Linear mixed-model was used to compare these measures between groups and areas stimulated.
Patients with PD showed lower WFA (p = 0.052), lower EPD (p = 0.009), lower inter-trial adherence (p < 0.001), and lower connectivity between homologs areas (p = 0.050), compared to healthy controls. LPD and STP measures were not different between the groups. In addition, lower inter-trial adherence correlated with longer disease duration (r = -0.355, p = 0.050).
Our findings provide evidence to various alterations in neurophysiological measures in patients with PD. The higher cortical excitability along with increased variability and lower widespread of the evoked potentials in PD can elucidate different aspects related to the pathophysiology of the disease.

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