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Keywords:

  • C57BL/6 mice;
  • corticospinal;
  • motor-evoked potentials;
  • neuromodulation;
  • transcranial electrical stimulation

Abstract

Shortly after the application of weak transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) to the animal and human brain, changes in corticospinal excitability, which mainly depend on polarity, duration and current density of the stimulation protocol, have been reported. In humans, anodal tDCS has been reported to enhance motor-evoked potentials (MEPs) elicited by transcranial brain stimulation while cathodal tDCS has been shown to decrease them. Here we investigated the effects produced by tDCS on mice motor cortex. MEPs evoked by transcranial electric stimulation were recorded from forelimbs of 12 C57BL/6 mice, under sevofluorane anaesthesia, before and after (0, 5 and 10 min) anodal and cathodal tDCS (tDCS duration 10 min). With respect to sham condition stimulation (anaesthesia), MEP size was significantly increased immediately after anodal tDCS, and was reduced after cathodal tDCS (∼20% vs. sham). Both effects declined towards basal levels in the following 10 min. Although the site and mechanisms of action of tDCS need to be more clearly identified, the directionality of effects of tDCS on mice MEPs is consistent with previous findings in humans. The feasibility of tDCS in mice suggests the potential applicability of this technique to assess the potential therapeutic options of brain polarization in animal models of neurological and neuropsychiatric diseases.