Effect of transcranial direct current stimulation on neuroplasticity in corticomotor pathways of the tongue muscles

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Journal Article
Journal of Oral Rehabilitation, 2017, 44 (9), pp. 691 - 701
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© 2017 John Wiley & Sons Ltd The aim of this study is to investigate effects of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) on neuroplasticity in corticomotor pathways related to tongue muscles evoked by a training task using the tongue drive system (TDS). Using a crossover design, 13 healthy participants completed two sessions of tDCS while performing 30 min of TDS training. Sessions were spaced at least 2 weeks apart and participants randomly received anodal and sham tDCS stimulation in the first session and the other condition in the second session. Single and paired pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation was used to elicit motor evoked potentials (MEPs) of the tongue at three time-points: before, immediately after and 30 min after training. Participant-based reports of fun, pain, fatigue and motivation, level of difficulty and effort were evaluated on numerical rating scales. There was no consistent significant effect of anodal and sham stimulation on single or paired pulse stimulation MEP amplitude immediately or 30 min after TDS training. Irrespective of tDCS type, training with TDS induced cortical plasticity in terms of increased MEP amplitudes for higher stimulus intensities after 30 min compared with before and immediately after training. Participant-based reports revealed no significant difference between tDCS conditions for level of fun, fatigue, motivation, difficulty and level of effort but a significant increase in pain in the anodal condition, although pain level was low for both conditions. In conclusion, tongue MEP amplitudes appear to be sensitive to training with the tongue using TDS; however, anodal tDCS does not have an impact on training-evoked neuroplasticity of tongue corticomotor pathways.
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