This study will use transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to investigate how the brain
controls movement by sending messages to the spinal cord and muscles.
Healthy normal volunteers 21 years of age or older may participate in this study.
They must have no medical, neurological or psychiatric illnesses nor have been taking
medications that affect nervous system function.
Participants will undergo transcranial magnetic stimulation. For this procedure, an
insulated wire coil is placed on the scalp or skin. A brief electrical current is passed
through the coil, creating a magnetic pulse that stimulates the brain. If the coil is placed
over a nerve or area of the brain that controls muscles, it may cause a muscle twitch,
possibly strong enough to move the limb. In other cases, the subject may have a feeling of
movement or feel a tingling sensation in a limb. Stimulation over the muscles on the side of
the head may cause some discomfort in that area or twitching of the jaw.
During the stimulation, the subject may be asked to tense certain muscles slightly or
perform other simple actions. The electrical activity of the muscles activated by the
stimulation will be recorded using metal electrodes taped to the skin over the muscle. In
most cases, the study takes less than 3 hours.
The purpose of this study is to investigate the influence of transcranial magnetic
stimulation (TMS) on free will to select movement. There have been debates that most of
human voluntary movements are reflexive rather than volitional in nature, although most
people feel that their movements are freely chosen. This issue is illuminated by previous
TMS studies showing external bias of freely chosen movements by TMS. Recently, we tried to
confirm these observations using a more reliable method with subthreshold TMS, but failed.
Thus, in this study, we are planning to use suprathreshold TMS to test whether this type of
stimulation on different motor areas influences free selection of movements or not.
Normal adult volunteers who are 21 years or older will be eligible.
Volunteers who have either any medico-surgical, neurological and psychiatric illnesses,
who have been taking any medication with potential influence on nervous system function,
who have a pacemaker, an implanted medical pump, a metal plate or a metal object in the
skull or eye (for example, after brain surgery), or who have a history of seizure
disorder, will be excluded.