State-Dependent Effects of tACS on the Motor System

tDCS vs tACS

State-Dependent Effects of Transcranial Oscillatory Currents on the Motor System during Action Observation.

We applied transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS) to the primary motor cortex (M1) at different frequencies during an index-thumb pinch-grip observation task. To estimate changes in the corticospinal output, we used the size of motor evoked potentials (MEPs) obtained by transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) of M1 using an online MRI-guided simultaneous TMS-tACS approach. The results of the beta-tACS confirm a non-selective increase in corticospinal excitability in subjects at rest; an increase was observed for both of the tested hand muscles, the first dorsal interosseous (FDI) and the abductor digiti minimi (ADM). However, during action observation of the pinch-grip movement, the increase of corticospinal excitability was only observed for the prime mover FDI muscle and took place during alpha-tACS, while gamma-tACS affected both the FDI and control muscle (ADM) responses. These phenomena likely reflect the hypothesis that the mu and gamma rhythms specifically index the downstream modulation of primary sensorimotor areas by engaging mirror neuron activity. The current neuromodulation approach confirms that tACS can be used to induce neurophysiologically detectable state-dependent enhancement effects, even in complex motor-cognitive tasks.

PMID: 31492895 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

Sci Rep. 2019 09 06;9(1):12858

Authors: Feurra M, Blagovechtchenski E, Nikulin VV, Nazarova M, Lebedeva A, Pozdeeva D, Yurevich M, Rossi S




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