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Behavioural Neurology
Volume 17, Issue 3-4, Pages 177-186

Enhancing Picture Naming with Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation

Felix M. Mottaghy,1 Roland Sparing,2 and Rudolf Töpper3

1Department of Nuclear Medicine, University Hospital Ulm, Robert-Koch-Str. 8, 89081 Ulm, Germany
2Department of Neurology, RWTH Aachen, Pauwelsstr. 30, 52074 Aachen, Germany
3Department of Neurology, AK Hamburg-Harburg, Eissendorfer Pferdeweg 52 21075 Hamburg, Germany

Received 21 November 2006; Accepted 21 November 2006

Copyright © 2006 Hindawi Publishing Corporation and the authors. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The enhancement of cognitive function in healthy subjects by medication, training or intervention yields increasing political, social and ethical attention. In this paper facilitatory effects of single-pulse TMS and repetitive TMS on a simple picture naming task are presented. A significant shortening of picture naming latencies was observed after single-pulse TMS over Wernicke's area. The accuracy of the response was not affected by this speed effect. After TMS over the dominant motor cortex or over the non-dominant temporal lobe, however, no facilitation of picture naming was observed. In the rTMS experiments only rTMS of Wernicke’s area had an impact on picture naming latencies resulting in a shortening of naming latencies without affecting the accuracy of the response. rTMS over the visual cortex, Broca's area or over the corresponding sites in the non-dominant hemisphere had no effect. Single-pulse TMS is able to facilitate lexical processes due to a general preactivation of language-related neuronal networks when delivered over Wernicke's area. Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation over Wernicke’s area also leads to a brief facilitation of picture naming possibly by shortening linguistic processing time. Whether TMS or rTMS can be used to aid linguistic therapy in the rehabilitation phase of aphasic patients should be subject of further investigations.