Objectives Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is widely used to assess cortical excitability. To detect changes in excitability with longitudinal studies, it is important to validate the repeatability of excitability measures within a subject between different sessions. Repeatability studies on long intracortical inhibition (LICI) are limited and reported agreement ranges from poor to good. This study aims to evaluate the repeatability of LICI in healthy subjects using paired pulse TMS. In addition, it investigates whether LICI repeatability differs for manual and robot-guided coil positioning. Methods Thirty healthy subjects (10 males, mean age 28.4 ± 8.2 years) were studied twice, approximately one week apart. Both motor cortices were stimulated with 50 paired pulses (intensity 120% of resting motor threshold) at interstimulus intervals (ISIs): 50, 100, 150, 200, 250 and 300 ms. In twenty subjects a figure-of-eight coil was positioned and held in place manually during both sessions, while in ten subjects a robot-navigated arm was used. LICI repeatability was assessed using the intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC). Results For manual and robot-guided coil positioning we found a large variation in repeatability at the subject level and ISI level, ranging from poor to good agreement. On a group level, we found good repeatability for averaged LICI curves (manual: ICC = 0.91, robot-guided: ICC = 0.95), which decreased when individual curves were correlated between sessions (manual: ICC = 0.76, robot-guided: ICC = 0.84). Conclusion For a correct interpretation of longitudinal study outcomes it is important to know the subject specific LICI repeatability and to analyze each ISI individually. Furthermore, the added value of robot-guided coil positioning for paired pulse TMS seems limited. Significance The large variation in LICI repeatability at the subject level and ISI level should be taken into account in longitudinal studies, while robot-guided coil positioning seems unnecessary.
- Coil positioning
- Long intracortical inhibition
- Transcranial magnetic stimulation