BioMag Laboratory, Medical Engineering Centre, Helsinki University Central Hospital, Helsinki, FIN-00029, Finland.
The motor cortex of 10 healthy subjects was stimulated by transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) before and after ethanol challenge (0.8 g/kg resulting in blood concentration of 0.77 +/- 0.14 ml/liter). The electrical brain activity resulting from the brief electromagnetic pulse was recorded with high-resolution electroencephalography (EEG) and located using inversion algorithms. Focal magnetic pulses to the left motor cortex were delivered with a figure-of-eight coil at the random interstimulus interval of 1.5-2.5 s. The stimulation intensity was adjusted to the motor threshold of abductor digiti minimi. Two conditions before and after ethanol ingestion (30 min) were applied: (1) real TMS, with the coil pressed against the scalp; and (2) control condition, with the coil separated from the scalp by a 2-cm-thick piece of plastic. A separate EMG control recording of one subject during TMS was made with two bipolar platinum needle electrodes inserted to the left temporal muscle. In each condition, 120 pulses were delivered. The EEG was recorded from 60 scalp electrodes. A peak in the EEG signals was observed at 43 ms after the TMS pulse in the real-TMS condition but not in the control condition or in the control scalp EMG. Potential maps before and after ethanol ingestion were significantly different from each other (P = 0.01), but no differences were found in the control condition. Ethanol changed the TMS-evoked potentials over right frontal and left parietal areas, the underlying effect appearing to be largest in the right prefrontal area. Our findings suggest that ethanol may have changed the functional connectivity between prefrontal and motor cortices. This new noninvasive method provides direct evidence about the modulation of cortical connectivity after ethanol challenge. Copyright 2001 Academic Press.