Oral Communication

Ipsilateral M1 transcranial direct current stimulation increases excitability of the contralateral M1 during an active motor task: implications for stroke rehabilitation

Dr Wei Peng TEOa, Dr Makii MUTHALIBb, Dr Dawson KIDGELLc, Ms Ashlyn FRAZERa, Dr Ashlee HENDYa, Ms Alicia GOODWILLa, Prof Stephane PERREYb

a Deakin University, b University of Montpellier, c La Trobe University

Introduction. Anodal transcranial direct current stimulation (a-tDCS) of the primary motor cortex (M1) elicits an increase in cortical excitability that outlasts the period of stimulation. However, little is known about effects of a-tDCS on the contralateral M1 during and after ipsilateral M1 stimulation. Therefore, we investigated the changes in corticospinal excitability and inhibition of the left M1 during and after 20min of a-tDCS to the right M1.

Material and methods. Eight healthy participants received real (2mA) and sham a-tDCS to the right M1 randomised across 2 testing sessions. Single- and paired-pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) was applied to the left M1 to measure changes motor-evoked potential (MEP) amplitude from the right extensor carpi radialis (ECR) at 130% of resting and active motor threshold, cortical silent period (CSP) and short-interval cortical inhibition (SICI). Active motor threshold was measured during a wrist extension contraction that was less than 5% of maximal electromyographic activation of the ECR. TMS measurements were recorded at baseline, every 5min for 20min during and 10min after a-tDCS.

Results. The results showed a significant (P<0.05) increase in left M1 MEP amplitude and reduction in CSP duration during (10min and 15min) and after (immediately and 10min post) a-tDCS to the right M1, only during the active motor task. A significant reduction (P<0.05) in SICI during the active task was also found immediately and 10min post a-tDCS. No significant changes in MEP amplitude, CSP and SICI were observed in the resting or active task during sham tDCS.

Discussion. The increase in left M1 MEP amplitude and reduction in CSP and SICI during and after 20min of right M1 a-tDCS is most likely to be attributed to a reduction in interhemispheric inhibition that is modulated by a-tDCS during the performance of an active task. Our findings may have significant implications for stroke rehabilitation whereby the application of a-tDCS on the contralesional M1 during neurorehabilitation of the paretic limb may be beneficial for inducing neuroplasticity of the ipsilesional M1 to improve motor function.

Keywords : transcranial direct current stimulation, primary motor cortex, excitability, transcranial magnetic stimulation, stroke