Design and Evaluation of a Rodent-Specific Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Coil: An In Silico and In Vivo Validation Study

Julia Boonzaier, Petar I. Petrov, Willem M. Otte, Nickolay Smirnov, Sebastiaan F.W. Neggers, Rick M. Dijkhuizen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Background: Rodent models are fundamental in unraveling cellular and molecular mechanisms of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS)-induced effects on the brain. However, proper translation of human TMS protocols to animal models have been restricted by the lack of rodent-specific focal TMS coils. Objective: We aimed to improve TMS focalization in rodent brain with a novel small, cooled, and rodent-specific TMS coil. Methods: A rodent-specific 25-mm figure-of-eight TMS coil was developed. Stimulation focalization was simulated in silico for the rodent coil and a commercial human 50-mm figure-of-eight TMS coil. Both coils were also compared in vivo by electromyography measurements of brachialis motor evoked potential (MEP) responses to TMS at different brain sites in anesthetized rats (n = 6). Focalization was determined from the coils' level of stimulation laterality. Differences in MEPs were statistically analyzed with repeated-measures, within-subjects, ANOVA. Results: In silico simulation results deemed the human coil insufficient for unilateral stimulation of the rat motor cortex, whereas lateralized electrical field induction was projected attainable with the rodent coil. Cortical, in vivo MEP amplitude measurements from multiple points in each hemisphere, revealed unilateral activation of the contralateral brachialis muscle, in absence of ipsilateral brachialis activation, with both coils. Conclusion: Computer simulations motivated the design of a smaller rodent-specific TMS coil, but came short in explaining the capability of a larger commercial human coil to induce unilateral MEPs in vivo. Lateralized TMS, as demonstrated for both TMS coils, corroborates their use in translational rodent studies, to elucidate mechanisms of action of therapeutic TMS protocols.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)324-334
Number of pages11
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2020


  • Electric fields
  • finite element analysis
  • motor evoked potential
  • rats
  • transcranial magnetic stimulation


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