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Keywords:

  • dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC);
  • premotor cortex (PM);
  • short intracortical inhibition and facilitation (SICI/ICF);
  • transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS);
  • transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS)

Abstract

Recent studies have shown that repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) over the premotor cortex (PM) modifies the excitability of the ipsilateral primary motor cortex (M1). Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is a new method to induce neuroplasticity in humans non-invasively. tDCS generates neuroplasticity directly in the cortical area under the electrode, but might also induce effects in distant brain areas, caused by activity modulation of interconnected areas. However, this has not yet been tested electrophysiologically. We aimed to study whether premotor tDCS can modify the excitability of the ipsilateral M1 via cortico-cortical connectivity. Sixteen subjects received cathodal and anodal tDCS of the PM and eight subjects of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. Premotor anodal, but not premotor cathodal or prefrontal tDCS, modified selectively short intracortical inhibition/intracortical facilitation (SICI/ICF), while motor thresholds, single test-pulse motor-evoked potential and input–output curves were stable throughout the experiments. Specifically, anodal tDCS decreased intracortical inhibition and increased paired-pulse excitability. The selective influence of premotor tDCS on intracortical excitability of the ipsilateral M1 suggests a connectivity-driven effect of tDCS on remote cortical areas. Moreover, this finding indirectly substantiates the efficacy of tDCS to modulate premotor excitability, which might be of interest for applications in diseases accompanied by pathological premotor activity.