A dissociation between propriospinal facilitation and inhibition after bilateral transcranial direct current stimulation.

Publisher:
American Physiological Society
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Citation:
Journal of Neurophysiology, 2014, 111 (11), pp. 2187 - 2195
Issue Date:
2014-06-01
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Propriospinal premotoneurons (PN) are essential for accurate control of the upper limb. They receive bilateral input from premotor (PM) and primary motor (M1) cortices. In humans, excitability of PNs can be estimated from motor-evoked potentials (MEPs) by pairing a descending volley using transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to summate with an ascending volley from peripheral nerve stimulation at the C3-C4 level of the spinal cord. Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) alters excitability of cortical and subcortical areas. A recent study demonstrated that cathodal tDCS can suppress facilitatory (FAC) and inhibitory (INH) components of PN excitability, presumably via effects on corticoreticulospinal neurons (Bradnam LV, Stinear CM, Lewis GN, Byblow WD. J Neurophysiol 103: 2382-2389, 2010). The present study investigated the effects of bilateral tDCS with healthy subjects. The cathode was placed over left dorsal PM or M1 and the anode over right M1 in separate sessions (PM-M1, M1-M1, or Sham). TMS of right M1 elicited MEPs in left biceps brachii across a range of TMS intensities chosen to examine PN-mediated FAC and INH. Conditioning was applied using median nerve stimulation with an interstimulus interval that coincided with TMS and peripheral volleys summating at the C3-C4 level. All participants showed FAC at TMS intensities near active motor threshold and INH at slightly higher intensities. After tDCS, FAC was reduced for M1-M1 compared with Sham but not after PM-M1 stimulation. Contrary to an earlier study with cathodal tDCS, INH was unchanged across all sessions. The difference between these and earlier findings may relate to dual- vs. single-hemisphere M1 stimulation. M1-M1 tDCS may be a useful adjuvant to techniques that aim to reduce upper limb impairment after stroke.
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