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The Impact of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation on Motor Coordination

The Impact of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation on Motor Coordination


Today, we're diving into the fascinating world of neuroscience and sports. Ever wondered how the brain and body work together to enhance athletic performance? Well, a recent study by Moscatelli et al. delves into the effects of high-frequency repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) on volleyball players' motor coordination. Let's unravel the science behind this research and understand how it could potentially revolutionize the way we approach sports training.

Unveiling the Power of Attention and Coordination

To kick things off, let's talk about attention and coordination. These are not just buzzwords in the world of sports; they are fundamental components that can make or break an athlete's performance. Think of attention as the ability to focus on specific stimuli while filtering out distractions. Whether it's tracking the trajectory of a volleyball or anticipating an opponent's move, attention plays a pivotal role in an athlete's success.

Coordination, on the other hand, involves the seamless synchronization of movements to achieve a specific goal. In sports like volleyball, where split-second decisions and precise movements are crucial, superior coordination can be the game-changer. Now, imagine if we could enhance these cognitive functions through targeted neurostimulation. That's exactly what the researchers set out to explore.

The Role of Dorsolateral Prefrontal Cortex (DLPFC)

Enter the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), a brain region known for its involvement in executive attention and cognitive control. In the context of team sports like volleyball, where athletes need to navigate complex environments and make rapid decisions, the DLPFC takes center stage. By actively preserving access to stimulus representations and objectives in distracting settings, this brain area becomes a key player in the athlete's mental game.

Understanding High-Frequency rTMS

Now, let's explain high-frequency repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS). This neurostimulation technique involves using electromagnetic coils placed on the scalp to modulate cortical activity. In simpler terms, it's like giving the brain a gentle nudge to enhance its functioning. The study by Moscatelli et al. focused on applying high-frequency rTMS to the DLPFC of volleyball players to investigate its impact on motor coordination and cortical excitability.

The Study: Unveiling the Findings

The researchers recruited twenty right-handed female volleyball players and divided them into two groups: the active rTMS group and the sham stimulation group. The active rTMS group underwent stimulation with specific parameters, while the sham group received placebo stimulation. Before and after the stimulation, the participants' coordination and cortical excitability were evaluated.

The results were intriguing. The study found that high-frequency rTMS of the DLPFC led to improved homolateral interlimb coordination, along with a decrease in resting motor threshold and MEP (motor evoked potential) latency of the ipsilateral motor cortex. In simpler terms, the neurostimulation seemed to enhance the players' ability to coordinate their movements on the opposite side of the body than was stimulated, while also affecting the neural excitability in the motor cortex.

Implications for Sports and Beyond

So, what do these findings mean for the world of sports and beyond? Well, they shed light on the potential of neurostimulation techniques to enhance athletes' cognitive and motor abilities. By targeting specific brain regions involved in attention and coordination, researchers are paving the way for innovative approaches to sports training and performance enhancement.

In the context of volleyball and other team sports, where split-second decisions and precise movements are the norm, the ability to fine-tune cognitive functions through neurostimulation could offer a competitive edge. Imagine a future where athletes undergo targeted brain stimulation to sharpen their focus and coordination, ultimately elevating their performance on the court.

Final Thoughts

As we wrap up our journey into the intersection of neuroscience and sports, it's clear that the human brain holds remarkable potential for shaping athletic prowess. The study by Moscatelli et al. opens doors to a new realm of possibilities, where neurostimulation becomes a tool for honing the cognitive and motor skills of athletes. While we're still at the frontier of understanding the full implications of this research, one thing is certain – the fusion of neuroscience and sports is a captivating arena with boundless opportunities for exploration.

So, the next time you watch a thrilling volleyball match, remember that behind those powerful serves and lightning-fast reflexes, the brain is orchestrating a symphony of attention and coordination. Who knows, with further advancements in neurostimulation, we might witness a whole new level of athletic excellence unfold before our eyes.

Until next time, keep exploring the fascinating realms of science and sports!

Citation: Fiorenzo Moscatelli et al., “High Frequencies (HF) Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (RTMS) Increase Motor Coordination Performances in Volleyball Players,” BMC Neuroscience 24, no. 1 (May 9, 2023): 30,


  • Neurostimulation: Neurostimulation refers to the use of various techniques to stimulate the nervous system, particularly the brain, in order to modulate its activity and function.

  • Motor Coordination: Motor coordination involves the harmonious functioning of muscles and limbs to execute precise movements and actions.

  • Attention: Concentration: the aspect of consciousness that relates to the amount of effort exerted in focusing on certain aspects of an experience, activity or task. Usually impaired in anxiety and depressive disorders. (

  • Coordination: The act of bringing into common action, movement, or condition. NCI Thesaurus (

  • Cortical Excitability: Measurable changes in activities in the CEREBRAL CORTEX upon a stimulation. A change in cortical excitability as measured by various techniques (e.g., TRANSCRANIAL MAGNETIC STIMULATION) is associated with brain disorders. NLM Medical Subject Headings (

  • Ipsilateral Motor Cortex: The ipsilateral motor cortex is the region of the brain that controls movements on the same side of the body as the stimulated cortex.

  • Placebo Stimulation: Placebo stimulation involves administering a treatment that has no therapeutic effect, often used as a control in research studies to compare against the effects of an active treatment.

  • Homolateral Interlimb Coordination: Homolateral interlimb coordination refers to the coordination of movements between limbs on the same side of the body.

  • Brain Stimulation: Brain stimulation involves techniques that directly influence brain activity, potentially affecting cognitive and motor functions.

  • Motor Evoked Potential: An electrical signal recorded from a muscle following direct stimulation of the motor cortex, often used to assess the functionality of motor pathways.