DOI: 10.1002/mus.28027 ISSN: 0148-639X

Caffeine and cortical excitability, as measured with paired‐pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation

Kristine Strunge, Hugh Bostock, James Howells, Bülent Cengiz, Gintaute Samusyte, Martin Koltzenburg, Hatice Tankisi
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Neurology (clinical)
  • Physiology



The transcranial magnetic stimulation tests of short‐interval intracortical inhibition (SICI) by both conventional amplitude measurements (A‐SICI) and threshold‐tracking (T‐SICI) are important methods to investigate intracortical inhibitory circuits, and T‐SICI has been proposed to aid the diagnosis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Beverages containing caffeine are widely consumed, and caffeine has been reported to affect cortical excitability. The aim of this study was to determine whether these SICI tests are affected by caffeine.


Twenty‐four healthy subjects (13 females, 11 males, aged from 19 to 31, mean: 26.2 ± 2.4 years) were studied in a single fixed‐dose randomized double‐blind placebo‐controlled cross‐over trial of 200 mg caffeine or placebo ingested as chewing gum. A‐SICI and T‐SICI, using parallel tracking (T‐SICIp), were performed before and after chewing gum.


There was no significant change in SICI parameters after placebo in A‐SICI (p > .10) or T‐SICIp (p > .30), and no significant effect of caffeine was found on A‐SICI (p > .10) or T‐SICIp (p > .50) for any of the interstimulus intervals.


There is no need for caffeine abstention before measurements of SICI by either the T‐SICI or A‐SICI measurements.

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