Premotor transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) affects primary motor excitability in humans.

Department of Clinical Neurophysiology, Georg-August University, Robert Koch Strasse 40, 37075 Göttingen, Germany.
European Journal of Neuroscience (Impact Factor: 3.67). 04/2008; 27(5):1292-300. DOI: 10.1111/j.1460-9568.2008.06090.x
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Recent studies have shown that repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) over the premotor cortex (PM) modifies the excitability of the ipsilateral primary motor cortex (M1). Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is a new method to induce neuroplasticity in humans non-invasively. tDCS generates neuroplasticity directly in the cortical area under the electrode, but might also induce effects in distant brain areas, caused by activity modulation of interconnected areas. However, this has not yet been tested electrophysiologically. We aimed to study whether premotor tDCS can modify the excitability of the ipsilateral M1 via cortico-cortical connectivity. Sixteen subjects received cathodal and anodal tDCS of the PM and eight subjects of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. Premotor anodal, but not premotor cathodal or prefrontal tDCS, modified selectively short intracortical inhibition/intracortical facilitation (SICI/ICF), while motor thresholds, single test-pulse motor-evoked potential and input-output curves were stable throughout the experiments. Specifically, anodal tDCS decreased intracortical inhibition and increased paired-pulse excitability. The selective influence of premotor tDCS on intracortical excitability of the ipsilateral M1 suggests a connectivity-driven effect of tDCS on remote cortical areas. Moreover, this finding indirectly substantiates the efficacy of tDCS to modulate premotor excitability, which might be of interest for applications in diseases accompanied by pathological premotor activity.

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    ABSTRACT: The popularity of non-invasive brain stimulation techniques in basic, commercial, and applied settings grew tremendously over the last decade. Here, we focus on one popular neurostimulation method: transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS). Many assumptions regarding the outcomes of tDCS are based on the results of stimulating motor cortex. For instance, the primary motor cortex is predictably suppressed by cathodal tDCS or made more excitable by anodal tDCS. However, wide-ranging studies testing cognition provide more complex and sometimes paradoxical results that challenge this heuristic. Here, we first summarize successful efforts in applying tDCS to cognitive questions, with a focus on working memory (WM). These recent findings indicate that tDCS can result in cognitive task improvement or impairment regardless of stimulation site or direction of current flow. We then report WM and response inhibition studies that failed to replicate and/or extend previously reported effects. From these opposing outcomes, we present a series of factors to consider that are intended to facilitate future use of tDCS when applied to cognitive questions. In short, common pitfalls include testing too few participants, using insufficiently challenging tasks, using heterogeneous participant populations, and including poorly motivated participants. Furthermore, the poorly understood underlying mechanism for long-lasting tDCS effects make it likely that other important factors predict responses. In conclusion, we argue that although tDCS can be used experimentally to understand brain function its greatest potential may be in applied or translational research.
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    ABSTRACT: Previous studies have investigated how tDCS over the primary motor cortex modulates excitability in the intrinsic hand muscles. Here, we tested if tDCS changes corticomotor excitability and/or cortical inhibition when measured in the extensor carpi radialis (ECR) and if these aftereffects can be successfully assessed during controlled muscle contraction.
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    ABSTRACT: Changes in γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) mediated synaptic transmission have been associated with age-related motor and cognitive functional decline. Since anodal transcranial direct current stimulation (atDCS) has been suggested to target cortical GABAergic inhibitory interneurons, its potential for the treatment of deficient inhibitory activity and functional decline is being increasingly discussed. Therefore, after-effects of a single session of atDCS on resting-state and event-related short-interval intracortical inhibition (SICI) as evaluated with double-pulse TMS and dexterous manual performance were examined using a sham-controlled cross-over design in a sample of older and younger participants. The atDCS effect on resting-state inhibition differed in direction, magnitude, and timing, i.e., late relative release of inhibition in the younger and early relative increase in inhibition in the older. More pronounced release of event-related inhibition after atDCS was exclusively seen in the older. Event-related modulation of inhibition prior to stimulation predicted the magnitude of atDCS-induced effects on resting-state inhibition. Specifically, older participants with high modulatory capacity showed a disinhibitory effect comparable to the younger. Beneficial effects on behavior were mainly seen in the older and in tasks requiring higher dexterity, no clear association with physiological changes was found. Differential effects of atDCS on SICI, discussed to reflect GABAergic inhibition at the level of the primary motor cortex, might be distinct in older and younger participants depending on the functional integrity of the underlying neural network. Older participants with preserved modulatory capacity, i.e., a physiologically "young" motor network, were more likely to show a disinhibitory effect of atDCS. These results favor individually tailored application of tDCS with respect to specific target groups.
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