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Exp Brain Res. 2012 Mar;217(1):15-23. doi: 10.1007/s00221-011-2968-5. Epub 2011 Dec 6.

Direct-current-dependent shift of theta-burst-induced plasticity in the human motor cortex.

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  • 1Sobell Department of Motor Neuroscience and Movement Disorders, Institute of Neurology, University College London, Room 3.10, 33 Queen Square, Box 146, London, WC1N 3BG, UK. ahasan@gwdg.de

Abstract

Animal studies using polarising currents have shown that induction of synaptic long-term potentiation (LTP) and long-term depression (LTD) by bursts of patterned stimulation is affected by the membrane potential of the postsynaptic neurone. The aim of the present experiments was to test whether it is possible to observe similar phenomena in humans with the aim of improving present protocols of inducing synaptic plasticity for therapeutic purposes. We tested whether the LTP/LTD-like after effects of transcranial theta-burst stimulation (TBS) of human motor cortex, an analogue of patterned electrical stimulation in animals, were affected by simultaneous transcranial direct-current stimulation (tDCS), a non-invasive method of polarising cortical neurones in humans. Nine healthy volunteers were investigated in a single-blind, balanced cross-over study; continuous TBS (cTBS) was used to introduce LTD-like after effects, whereas intermittent TBS (iTBS) produced LTP-like effects. Each pattern was coupled with concurrent application of tDCS (<200 s, anodal, cathodal, sham). Cathodal tDCS increased the response to iTBS and abolished the effects of cTBS. Anodal tDCS changed the effects of cTBS towards facilitation, but had no impact on iTBS. Cortical motor thresholds and intracortical inhibitory/facilitatory networks were not altered by any of the stimulation protocols. We conclude that the after effects of TBS can be modulated by concurrent tDCS. We hypothesise that tDCS changes the membrane potential of the apical dendrites of cortical pyramidal neurones and that this changes the response to patterned synaptic input evoked by TBS. The data show that it may be possible to enhance LTP-like plasticity after TBS in the human cortex.

PMID:
22143872
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3279644
Free PMC Article

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