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The Scientific World Journal
Volume 2014, Article ID 349718, 12 pages
Research Article

Induced Effects of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation on the Autonomic Nervous System and the Cardiac Rhythm

1Center for Advanced Technology and Education, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, College of Engineering and Computing, Florida International University (FIU), USA
2Neuroscience Consultants, USA
3Baptist Health Neuroscience Center, Baptist Hospital of Miami, USA
4FIU Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine, USA

Received 2 May 2014; Accepted 7 June 2014; Published 17 July 2014

Academic Editor: Huiyu Zhou

Copyright © 2014 Mercedes Cabrerizo et al. 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.


Several standard protocols based on repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) have been employed for treatment of a variety of neurological disorders. Despite their advantages in patients that are retractable to medication, there is a lack of knowledge about the effects of rTMS on the autonomic nervous system that controls the cardiovascular system. Current understanding suggests that the shape of the so-called QRS complex together with the size of the different segments and intervals between the PQRST deflections of the heart could predict the nature of the different arrhythmias and ailments affecting the heart. This preliminary study involving 10 normal subjects from 20 to 30 years of age demonstrated that rTMS can induce changes in the heart rhythm. The autonomic activity that controls the cardiac rhythm was indeed altered by an rTMS session targeting the motor cortex using intensity below the subject’s motor threshold and lasting no more than 5 minutes. The rTMS activation resulted in a reduction of the intervals (cardioacceleration) in most cases. Most of these cases also showed significant changes in the Poincare plot descriptor SD2 (long-term variability), the area under the low frequency (LF) power spectrum density curve, and the low frequency to high frequency (LF/HF) ratio. The intervals changed significantly in specific instants of time during rTMS activation showing either heart rate acceleration or heart rate deceleration.