Patients with Obstructive Sleep Apnea show altered motor cortical plasticity in response to cTBS

Featured Article of EJN Issue 37-11

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Motor cortex plasticity induced by theta burst stimulation is impaired in patients with obstructive sleep apnoea
by George M. Opie, Peter G. Catcheside, Zafar A. Usmani, Michael C. Ridding and John G. Semmler

Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) causes changes within the brain that may affect intracortical inhibition (ICI) and neuroplasticity. We investigated this possibility using transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) in patients with severe OSA, where neuroplastic changes were induced using continuous theta-burst stimulation (cTBS). Patients showed normal ICI, but failed to respond to cTBS. These results suggest that motor cortex neuroplasticity is altered in OSA.

Access Commentary on this Featured Article by James T. McKenna, Bernat Kocsis and Robert W. McCarley

The Authors

George Opie is a PhD student in the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Adelaide. His doctoral work uses non-invasive brain stimulation techniques in healthy human subjects to examine how the ageing process affects intracortical inhibitory mechanisms within primary motor cortex, and how alterations in cortical inhibitory function contribute to age-related deficits in motor performance.

Peter Catcheside heads physiology research at the Adelaide Institute for Sleep, is an Australian Research Council (ARC) Future Fellow in the Department of Medicine at Flinders University and is a Visiting Research Fellow in Physiology at the University of Adelaide. His main research interests are in respiratory / sleep physiology with a particular focus on understanding mechanisms and consequences of sleep apnoea towards improved diagnostic and treatment strategies.

Zafar A Usmani is a Respiratory & Sleep Physician at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital and clinical lecturer at the University of Adelaide, South Australia. He was trained in Sleep Medicine at The Adelaide Institute for Sleep Health, South Australia. His main research interests include novel treatments for obstructive sleep apnoea and psychological co-morbidities associated with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.

Michael Ridding holds a NHMRC Senior Research Fellowship in the Robinson Institute (School of Paediatrics and Reproductive Health) at the University of Adelaide. His main research interest is focussed on the development of novel non-invasive techniques for the induction of functionally beneficial neuroplasticity in healthy subjects and patients with neurological disease. In addition, he also focuses his research efforts into examining influences on neuroplasticity induction including lifestyle, hormonal and genetic effects.

John Semmler is a Senior Lecturer in Physiology at the University of Adelaide. His research interests focus on the cortical, spinal and neuromuscular mechanisms responsible for changes in motor performance throughout the lifespan. Specific areas of investigation include the neurophysiology of exercise and training, the decline in brain and motor function with advancing age, and factors that influence neuroplasticity induction and motor learning in health and disease.