Effects of tDCS on GABA and Glx in Children

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Effects of Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation on GABA and Glx in Children: A pilot study.

PLoS One. 2020;15(1):e0222620

Authors: Nwaroh C, Giuffre A, Cole L, Bell T, Carlson HL, MacMaster FP, Kirton A, Harris AD

Abstract
Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is a form of non-invasive brain stimulation that safely modulates brain excitability and has therapeutic potential for many conditions. Several studies have shown that anodal tDCS of the primary motor cortex (M1) facilitates motor learning and plasticity, but there is little information about the underlying mechanisms. Using magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS), it has been shown that tDCS can affect local levels of γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and Glx (a measure of glutamate and glutamine combined) in adults, both of which are known to be associated with skill acquisition and plasticity; however this has yet to be studied in children and adolescents. This study examined GABA and Glx in response to conventional anodal tDCS (a-tDCS) and high definition tDCS (HD-tDCS) targeting the M1 in a pediatric population. Twenty-four typically developing, right-handed children ages 12-18 years participated in five consecutive days of tDCS intervention (sham, a-tDCS or HD-tDCS) targeting the right M1 while training in a fine motor task (Purdue Pegboard Task) with their left hand. Glx and GABA were measured before and after the protocol (at day 5 and 6 weeks) using a PRESS and GABA-edited MEGA-PRESS MRS sequence in the sensorimotor cortices. Glx measured in the left sensorimotor cortex was higher in the HD-tDCS group compared to a-tDCS and sham at 6 weeks (p = 0.001). No changes in GABA were observed in either sensorimotor cortex at any time. These results suggest that neither a-tDCS or HD-tDCS locally affect GABA and Glx in the developing brain and therefore it may demonstrate different responses in adults.

PMID: 31910218 [PubMed – in process]

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