tDCS effects on manual dexterity and motor cortex function

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Somatosensory and transcranial direct current stimulation effects on manual dexterity and motor cortex function: A metaplasticity study.

Brain Stimul. 2019 Feb 26;:

Authors: Trudgen A, Cirillo J, Byblow WD

BACKGROUND: Non-invasive neuromodulation may provide treatment strategies for neurological deficits affecting movement, such as stroke. For example, weak electrical stimulation applied to the hand by wearing a “mesh glove” (MGS) can transiently increase primary motor cortex (M1) excitability. Conversely, transcranial direct current stimulation with the cathode over M1 (c-tDCS) can decrease corticomotor excitability.
OBJECTIVE/HYPOTHESIS: We applied M1 c-tDCS as a priming adjuvant to MGS and hypothesised metaplastic effects would be apparent in improved motor performance and modulation of M1 inhibitory and facilitatory circuits.
METHODS: Sixteen right-handed neurologically healthy individuals participated in a repeated measures cross-over study; nine minutes of sham- or c-tDCS followed by 30 min of suprasensory threshold MGS. Dexterity of the non-dominant (left) hand was assessed using the grooved pegboard task, and measures of corticomotor excitability, intracortical facilitation, short-latency afferent inhibition (SAI), short-interval intracortical inhibition (SICI), and SAI in the presence of SICI (SAIxSICI), were obtained at baseline, post-tDCS, and 0, 30 and 60 min post-MGS.
RESULTS: There was a greater improvement in grooved pegboard completion times with c-tDCS primed MGS than sham + MGS. There was also more pronounced disinhibition of SAI. However, disinhibition of SAI in the presence of SICI was less and rest motor threshold higher compared to sham + MGS.
CONCLUSIONS: The results indicate a metaplastic modulation of corticomotor excitability with c-tDCS primed MGS. Further studies are warranted to determine how various stimulation approaches can induce metaplastic effects on M1 neuronal circuits to boost functional gains obtained with motor practice.

PMID: 30850217 [PubMed – as supplied by publisher]

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