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Short periods of bipolar anodal TDCS induce no instantaneous dose-dependent increase in cerebral blood flow in the targeted human motor cortex

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Anodal transcranial direct current stimulation (aTDCS) of primary motor hand area (M1-HAND) can enhance corticomotor excitability, but it is still unknown which current intensity produces the strongest effect on intrinsic neural firing rates and synaptic activity. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) combined with pseudo-continuous Arterial Spin Labeling (pcASL MRI) can map regional cortical blood flow (rCBF). The measured rCBF signal is sensitive to regional changes in neuronal activity due to neurovascular coupling. Therefore, concurrent TDCS and pcASL MRI may reveal the relationship between current intensity and TDCS-induced changes in overall firing rates and synaptic activity in the cortical target. Here we employed pcASL MRI to map acute rCBF changes during short-duration aTDCS of left M1-HAND. Using the rCBF response as a proxy for regional neuronal activity, we investigated if short-duration aTDCS produces an instantaneous dose-dependent rCBF increase in the targeted M1-HAND that may be useful for individual dosing. Nine healthy right-handed participants received 30 s of aTDCS at 0.5, 1.0, 1.5, and 2.0 mA with the anode placed over left M1-HAND and cathode over the right supraorbital region. Concurrent pcASL MRI at 3 T probed TDCS-related rCBF changes in the targeted M1-HAND. Movement-induced rCBF changes were also assessed. Apart from a subtle increase in rCBF at 0.5 mA, short-duration aTDCS did not modulate rCBF in the M1-HAND relative to no-stimulation periods. None of the participants showed a dose-dependent increase in rCBF during aTDCS, even after accounting for individual differences in TDCS-induced electrical field strength. In contrast, finger movements led to robust activation of left M1-HAND before and after aTDCS. Short-duration bipolar aTDCS does not produce consistant instantaneous dose-dependent rCBF increases in the targeted M1-HAND at conventional intensity ranges. Therefore, the regional hemodynamic response profile to short-duration aTDCS may not be suited to inform individual dosing of TDCS intensity.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9580
JournalScientific Reports
Volume12
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
ISSN2045-2322
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jun 2022

Bibliographical note

© 2022. The Author(s).

    Research areas

  • Cerebrovascular Circulation, Electrodes, Evoked Potentials, Motor/physiology, Humans, Motor Cortex/diagnostic imaging, Movement/physiology, Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation/methods, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation

ID: 78739045