Concurrent anodal transcranial direct-current stimulation and motor task to influence sensorimotor cortex activation


Functional targeting with anodal high-definition transcranial direct current stimulation (HD-atDCS) of involved brain areas during performance of a motor task (online) may facilitate sensorimotor cortex neuroplasticity compared to performing the motor task after HD-atDCS (offline). The aim of this study was to employ functional near-infrared spectroscopy to compare the time course of motor task-related changes in sensorimotor cortex activation between online and offline HD-atDCS. We hypothesized that online HD-atDCS would have a greater effect on task-related sensorimotor cortex activation than offline HD-atDCS. In a within-subject sham controlled and randomized study design, 9 healthy participants underwent 3 HD-atDCS sessions (online, offline and sham) targeting the left sensorimotor cortex separated by 1 week. Functional near-infrared spectroscopy hemodynamic changes were measured from the left sensorimotor cortex during a simple finger opposition motor task before (Pre), immediately (T1) and 30 min after (T2) each session. The movement rates were not different between (online, offline, sham) or within (Pre, T1, T2) sessions. At T2, online HD-atDCS was associated with a significant increase (large effect size) in sensorimotor cortex activation (Hedges g = 1.01, p < 0.001) when compared to sham; there was a nonsignificant trend to increase activation between offline and sham (Hedges g = 0.52, p = 0.05) and between online and offline (Hedges g = 0.53, p = 0.06). Concurrent application of HD-atDCS during a motor task may produce larger sensorimotor cortex activation than sequential application.

Brain Research