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Exp Brain Res. 2017 Mar;235(3):851-859. doi: 10.1007/s00221-016-4848-5. Epub 2016 Dec 1.

Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) to the supplementary motor area (SMA) influences performance on motor tasks.

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Department of Exercise Science, Elon University, 2525 Campus Box, Elon, NC, 27244, USA.
Department of Exercise Science, Elon University, 2525 Campus Box, Elon, NC, 27244, USA.
Brain Function Laboratory, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA.


The supplementary motor area (SMA) is believed to be highly involved in the planning and execution of both simple and complex motor tasks. This study aimed to examine the role of the SMA in planning the movements required to complete reaction time, balance, and pegboard tasks using anodal transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), which passes a weak electrical current between two electrodes, in order to modulate neuronal activity. Twenty healthy adults were counterbalanced to receive either tDCS (experimental condition) or no tDCS (control condition) for 3 days. During administration of tDCS, participants performed a balance task significantly faster than controls. After tDCS, subjects significantly improved their simple and choice reaction time. These results demonstrate that the SMA is highly involved in planning and executing fine and gross motor skill tasks and that tDCS is an effective modality for increasing SMA-related performance on these tasks. The findings may be generalizable and therefore indicate implications for future interventions using tDCS as a therapeutic tool.


Balance; Motor planning; Reaction time; Supplementary motor area (SMA); Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS)

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