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Front Hum Neurosci. 2017 Jan 31;11:16. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2017.00016. eCollection 2017.

Anodal Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation Does Not Facilitate Dynamic Balance Task Learning in Healthy Old Adults.

Author information

1
Department of Neurology, Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences Leipzig, Germany.
2
Department of Neurology, Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain SciencesLeipzig, Germany; Department of Psychiatry, Cerebral Imaging Centre, Douglas Mental Health Institute, McGill UniversityMontreal, QC, Canada.
3
Department of Neurology, Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain SciencesLeipzig, Germany; Faculty of Psychology, Department of Experimental Psychology and Methods, University of LeipzigLeipzig, Germany.
4
Department of Neurology, Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain SciencesLeipzig, Germany; Mind and Brain Institute, Charité and Humboldt UniversityBerlin, Germany.
5
Department of Neurology, Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain SciencesLeipzig, Germany; Faculty of Sport Science, Institute for General Kinesiology and Exercise Science, University of LeipzigLeipzig, Germany.

Abstract

Older adults frequently experience a decrease in balance control that leads to increased numbers of falls, injuries and hospitalization. Therefore, evaluating older adults' ability to maintain balance and examining new approaches to counteract age-related decline in balance control is of great importance for fall prevention and healthy aging. Non-invasive brain stimulation techniques such as transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) have been shown to beneficially influence motor behavior and motor learning. In the present study, we investigated the influence of tDCS applied over the leg area of the primary motor cortex (M1) on balance task learning of healthy elderly in a dynamic balance task (DBT). In total, 30 older adults were enrolled in a cross-sectional, randomized design including two consecutive DBT training sessions. Only during the first DBT session, either 20 min of anodal tDCS (a-tDCS) or sham tDCS (s-tDCS) were applied and learning improvement was compared between the two groups. Our data showed that both groups successfully learned to perform the DBT on both training sessions. Interestingly, between-group analyses revealed no difference between the a-tDCS and the s-tDCS group regarding their level of task learning. These results indicate that the concurrent application of tDCS over M1 leg area did not elicit DBT learning enhancement in our study cohort. However, a regression analysis revealed that DBT performance can be predicted by the kinematic profile of the movement, a finding that may provide new insights for individualized approaches of treating balance and gait disorders.

KEYWORDS:

balance learning; dynamic balance task; healthy aging; kinematics; non-invasive brain stimulation; transcranial direct current stimulation

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