Effects of tDCS on Spontaneous Spike Activity in a Healthy Ambulatory Rat Model.
BACKGROUND: The neurophysiological effects of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) are typically described with respect to changes in cortical excitability, defined by using transcranial magnetic stimulation pulses to determine changes in motor evoked potentials. However, how individual cortical neurons change firing patterns under the influence of tDCS is largely unknown. While the relatively weak currents produced in the brain by tDCS may not be adequate to directly depolarize neuronal membranes, ongoing neuronal activity, combined with subthreshold changes in membrane polarization might be sufficient to alter the threshold for neural firing.
OBJECTIVES: The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of tDCS on neurophysiological activity in motor cortex of freely moving, healthy rats.
METHODS: In nine healthy, ambulatory rats, each studied under six different stimulation conditions varying in current intensity (maximum current density = 39.8 A/m2 at 0.4 mA) and polarity (anodal or cathodal), neural activity was analyzed in response to 20 minutes of tDCS applied through bone screws insulated from the overlying scalp.
RESULTS: After analysis of 480 multi-unit channels that satisfied a rigid set of neurophysiological criteria, we found no systematic effect of tDCS stimulation condition on firing rate or firing pattern. Restricting the analysis to the most responsive units, subtle, but statistically significant changes occurred only in the highest intensity anodal condition.
CONCLUSIONS: These results confirm that at current densities typically used in human or animal tDCS studies, observed effects of tDCS are likely to occur via mechanisms other than direct neuronal depolarization.
PMID: 32927094 [PubMed – as supplied by publisher]
Brain Stimul. 2020 Sep 11;:
Authors: Milighetti S, Sterzi S, Fregni F, Hanlon CA, Hayley P, Murphy MD, Bundy DT, Nudo RJ, Guggenmos DJ