Effects of tACS on continuous bimanual performance

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Distinct online and offline effects of alpha and beta transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS) on continuous bimanual performance and task-set switching.

Abstract
In the present study we examined the effect of bihemispheric in-phase synchronization of motor cortical rhythms on complex bimanual coordination. Twenty young healthy volunteers received 10 Hz or 20 Hz tACS in a double-blind crossover design while performing a bimanual task-set switching paradigm. We used a bilateral high-density montage centred over the hand knob representation within the primary motor cortices to apply tACS time-locked to the switching events. Online tACS in either frequency led to faster but more erroneous switching transitions compared to trials without active stimulation. When comparing stimulation frequencies, 10 Hz stimulation resulted in higher error rates and slower switching transitions than 20 Hz stimulation. Furthermore, the stimulation frequencies showed distinct carry-over effects in trials following stimulation trains. Non-stimulated switching transitions were generally faster but continuous performance became more erroneous over time in the 20 Hz condition. We suggest that the behavioural effects of bifocal in-phase tACS are explained by online synchronization of long-range interhemispheric sensorimotor oscillations, which impacts on interhemispheric information flow and the top-down control required for flexible control of complex bimanual actions. Different stimulation frequencies may lead to distinct offline effects, which potentially accumulate over time and therefore need to be taken into account when evaluating subsequent performance.

PMID: 30816305 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

Sci Rep. 2019 02 28;9(1):3144

Authors: Heise KF, Monteiro TS, Leunissen I, Mantini D, Swinnen SP

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