- Reward-based feedback given during motor learning has been shown to improve the retention of the behaviour being acquired. Interestingly, applying transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) during learning over the primary motor cortex (M1), an area associated with motor retention, also results in enhanced retention of the newly formed motor memories. However, it remains unknown whether combining these distinct interventions result in an additive benefit of motor retention.
- Recent studies have shown that neurophysiological outcomes of transcranial direct current stimulation (TDCS) are influenced by current flow in brain regions between the electrodes, and in particular the orientation of current flow relative to the cortical surface.
- The potential of non-invasive brain stimulation (NIBS) for both probing human neuroplasticity and the induction of functionally relevant neuroplastic change has received significant interest. However, at present the utility of NIBS is limited due to high response variability. One reason for this response variability is that NIBS targets a diffuse cortical population and the net outcome to stimulation depends on the relative levels of excitability in each population. There is evidence that the relative excitability of complex oligosynaptic circuits (late I-wave circuits) as assessed by transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is useful in predicting NIBS response.
- Motor training usually increases the excitability of corticospinal outputs to the trained muscles. However, it is uncertain to what extent the change in excitability is a critical component of behavioral learning or whether it is a non-specific side effect.
- Paired associative stimulation (PAS), which is used to test a long term potentiation (LTP)-like effect, involves repeated pairing of peripheral somatosensory input with transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) given 25 ms later over M1 (PAS25). The effect is usually quantified as an increase in amplitude of motor evoked potentials evoked by single pulse TMS. However, the effect varies greatly between individuals.
- Responses to a number of different plasticity-inducing brain stimulation protocols are highly variable. However there is little data available on the variability of response to transcranial direct current stimulation (TDCS).