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Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) using a double-cone coil over the medial frontal cortex has the potential to clarify the function of the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) in cognition, emotion and mood disorders. Following demonstration of disruption of performance on psychological tasks closely linked to cingulate function using this TMS technique, the current study aimed to directly measure the regional distribution of physiological effects of stimulation in the brain with H2(15)O PET. Experiment 1 assessed the effect of increasing numbers of pulse trains of TMS on regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF). Experiment 2 assessed the capacity of medial frontal TMS to modulate brain activity associated with the Stroop task using medial parietal TMS as a control site of stimulation. SPM99 analyses, using the ACC as a region of interest, revealed clusters of increased rCBF during medial frontal TMS in Brodmann area 24 and reduced rCBF in more ventral ACC, the latter occurring in both experiments. In a whole-brain analysis, striking changes in rCBF were observed distal to the ACC following medial frontal TMS. Although TMS reliably affected Stroop task performance in early trials, there was no interaction between TMS and Stroop condition in rCBF. Our results suggest that medial frontal TMS using the double-cone coil can affect ACC activity. However, a number of more distal cortical areas were also affected in these experiments. These additional changes may reflect either 'downstream' effects of altered cingulate cortex activity or direct effects of the coil.

Original publication




Journal article


Eur J Neurosci

Publication Date





2224 - 2233


Adult, Behavior, Brain Mapping, Cerebrovascular Circulation, Frontal Lobe, Gyrus Cinguli, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Regional Blood Flow, Reproducibility of Results, Tomography, Emission-Computed, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation