Objective: Neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) is an autosomal dominant genetic disorder that is associated with cognitive disabilities. Based on studies involving animals, the hypothesized cause of these disabilities results from increased activity of inhibitory interneurons that decreases synaptic plasticity. We obtained transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS)-based measures of cortical inhibition, excitability and plasticity in individuals with NF1. Methods: We included 32 NF1 adults and 32 neurotypical controls. Cortical inhibition was measured with short-interval intracortical inhibition (SICI) and cortical silent period (CSP). Excitability and plasticity were studied with intermittent theta burst stimulation (iTBS). Results: The SICI and CSP response did not differ between NF1 adults and controls. The response upon iTBS induction was significantly increased in controls (70%) and in NF1 adults (83%). This potentiation lasted longer in controls than in individuals with NF1. Overall, the TMS response was significantly lower in NF1 patients (F(1, 41) = 7.552, p = 0.009). Conclusions: Individuals with NF1 may have reduced excitability and plasticity, as indicated by their lower TMS response and attenuation of the initial potentiated response upon iTBS induction. However, our findings did not provide evidence for increased inhibition in NF1 patients. Significance: These findings have potential utility as neurophysiological outcome measures for intervention studies to treat cognitive deficits associated with NF1.

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doi.org/10.1016/j.clinph.2020.08.016, hdl.handle.net/1765/130726
Clinical Neurophysiology
Department of Neuroscience