BackgroundProlonged intermittent theta-burst stimulation (piTBS) and repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) are effective antidepressant interventions for major depressive disorder (MDD). Cognition-modulated frontal theta (frontalθ) activity had been identified to predict the antidepressant response to 10-Hz left prefrontal rTMS. However, whether this marker also predicts that of piTBS needs further investigation.MethodsThe present double-blind randomized trial recruited 105 patients with MDD who showed no response to at least one adequate antidepressant treatment in the current episode. The recruited patients were randomly assigned to one of three groups: group A received piTBS monotherapy; group B received rTMS monotherapy; and group C received sham stimulation. Before a 2-week acute treatment period, electroencephalopgraphy (EEG) and cognition-modulated frontal theta changes (Δfrontalθ) were measured. Depression scores were evaluated at baseline, 1 week, and 2 weeks after the initiation of treatment.ResultsThe Δfrontalθ at baseline was significantly correlated with depression score changes at week 1 (r = −0.383, p = 0.025) and at week 2 for rTMS group (r = −0.419, p = 0.014), but not for the piTBS and sham groups. The area under the receiver operating characteristic curve for Δfrontalθ was 0.800 for the rTMS group (p = 0.003) and was 0.549 for the piTBS group (p = 0.619).ConclusionThe predictive value of higher baseline Δfrontalθ for antidepressant efficacy for rTMS not only replicates previous results but also implies that the antidepressant responses to rTMS could be predicted reliably at baseline and both piTBS and rTMS could be effective through different neurobiological mechanisms.