tDCS over the auditory cortex modulates GABA and glutamate

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Transcranial direct current stimulation ( tDCS) over the auditory cortex modulates GABA and glutamate: a 7 T MR-spectroscopy study.

Transcranial direct current stimulation ( tDCS) is one of the most prominent non-invasive electrical brain stimulation method to alter neuronal activity as well as behavioral processes in cognitive and perceptual domains. However, the exact mode of action of tDCS-related cortical alterations is still unclear as the results of tDCS studies often do not comply with the somatic doctrine assuming that anodal tDCS enhances while cathodal tDCS decreases neuronal excitability. Changes in the regional cortical neurotransmitter balance within the stimulated cortex, measured by excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmitter levels, have the potential to provide direct neurochemical underpinnings of tDCS effects. Here we assessed tDCS-induced modulations of the neurotransmitter concentrations in the human auditory cortex (AC) by using magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) at ultra-high-field (7 T). We quantified inhibitory gamma-amino butyric (GABA) concentration and excitatory glutamate (Glu) and compared changes in the relative concentration of GABA to Glu before and after tDCS application. We found that both, anodal and cathodal tDCS significantly increased the relative concentration of GABA to Glu with individual temporal specificity. Our results offer novel insights for a potential neurochemical mechanism that underlies tDCS-induced alterations of AC processing.

PMID: 33208867 [PubMed – in process]

Sci Rep. 2020 Nov 18;10(1):20111

Authors: Heimrath K, Brechmann A, Blobel-Lüer R, Stadler J, Budinger E, Zaehle T

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