Transcranial direct current stimulation preconditioning modulates the effect of high-frequency repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation in the human motor cortex

Authors

  • Giuseppe Cosentino,

    1. Department of Experimental Biomedicine and Clinical Neurosciences (BioNeC), University of Palermo, Via Gaetano La Loggia n. 1, 90129 Palermo, Italy
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  • Brigida Fierro,

    1. Department of Experimental Biomedicine and Clinical Neurosciences (BioNeC), University of Palermo, Via Gaetano La Loggia n. 1, 90129 Palermo, Italy
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  • Piera Paladino,

    1. Department of Experimental Biomedicine and Clinical Neurosciences (BioNeC), University of Palermo, Via Gaetano La Loggia n. 1, 90129 Palermo, Italy
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  • Simona Talamanca,

    1. Department of Experimental Biomedicine and Clinical Neurosciences (BioNeC), University of Palermo, Via Gaetano La Loggia n. 1, 90129 Palermo, Italy
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  • Simone Vigneri,

    1. Department of Experimental Biomedicine and Clinical Neurosciences (BioNeC), University of Palermo, Via Gaetano La Loggia n. 1, 90129 Palermo, Italy
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  • Antonio Palermo,

    1. Department of Experimental Biomedicine and Clinical Neurosciences (BioNeC), University of Palermo, Via Gaetano La Loggia n. 1, 90129 Palermo, Italy
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  • Giuseppe Giglia,

    1. Department of Experimental Biomedicine and Clinical Neurosciences (BioNeC), University of Palermo, Via Gaetano La Loggia n. 1, 90129 Palermo, Italy
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  • Filippo Brighina

    1. Department of Experimental Biomedicine and Clinical Neurosciences (BioNeC), University of Palermo, Via Gaetano La Loggia n. 1, 90129 Palermo, Italy
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Dr B. Fierro, as above.
E-mail: fierro@unipa.it

Abstract

Experimental studies emphasize the importance of homeostatic plasticity as a mean of stabilizing the properties of neural circuits. In the present work we combined two techniques able to produce short-term (5-Hz repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation, rTMS) and long-term (transcranial direct current stimulation, tDCS) effects on corticospinal excitability to evaluate whether and how the effects of 5-Hz rTMS can be tuned by tDCS preconditioning. Twelve healthy subjects participated in the study. Brief trains of 5-Hz rTMS were applied to the primary motor cortex at an intensity of 120% of the resting motor threshold, with recording of the electromyograph traces evoked by each stimulus of the train from the contralateral abductor pollicis brevis muscle. This interventional protocol was preconditioned by 15 min of anodal or cathodal tDCS delivered at 1.5 mA intensity. Our results showed that motor-evoked potentials (MEPs) increased significantly in size during trains of 5-Hz rTMS in the absence of tDCS preconditioning. After facilitatory preconditioning with anodal tDCS, 5-Hz rTMS failed to produce progressive MEP facilitation. Conversely, when 5-Hz rTMS was preceded by inhibitory cathodal tDCS, MEP facilitation was not abolished. These findings may give insight into the mechanisms of homeostatic plasticity in the human cerebral cortex, suggesting also more suitable applications of tDCS in a clinical setting.

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