[ARTICLE] Using Biophysical Models to Understand the Effect of tDCS on Neurorehabilitation: Searching for Optimal Covariates to Enhance Poststroke Recovery – Full Text

Stroke is a leading cause of worldwide disability, and up to 75% of survivors suffer from some degree of arm paresis. Recently, rehabilitation of stroke patients has focused on recovering motor skills by taking advantage of use-dependent neuroplasticity, where high-repetition of goal-oriented movement is at times combined with non-invasive brain stimulation, such as transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS). Merging the two approaches is thought to provide outlasting clinical gains, by enhancing synaptic plasticity and motor relearning in the motor cortex primary area. However, this general approach has shown mixed results across the stroke population. In particular, stroke location has been found to correlate with the likelihood of success, which suggests that different patients might require different protocols. Understanding how motor rehabilitation and stimulation interact with ongoing neural dynamics is crucial to optimize rehabilitation strategies, but it requires theoretical and computational models to consider the multiple levels at which this complex phenomenon operate. In this work, we argue that biophysical models of cortical dynamics are uniquely suited to address this problem. Specifically, biophysical models can predict treatment efficacy by introducing explicit variables and dynamics for damaged connections, changes in neural excitability, neurotransmitters, neuromodulators, plasticity mechanisms and repetitive movement, which together can represent brain state, effect of incoming stimulus and movement-induced activity. In this work, we hypothesize that effects of tDCS depend on ongoing neural activity, and that tDCS effects on plasticity may be also related to enhancing inhibitory processes. We propose a model design for each step of this complex system, and highlight strengths and limitations of the different modeling choices within our approach. Our theoretical framework proposes a change in paradigm, where biophysical models can contribute to the future design of novel protocols, in which combined tDCS and motor rehabilitation strategies are tailored to the ongoing dynamics that they interact with, by considering the known biophysical factors recruited by such protocols and their interaction.

Source: Frontiers | Using Biophysical Models to Understand the Effect of tDCS on Neurorehabilitation: Searching for Optimal Covariates to Enhance Poststroke Recovery | Stroke

Figure 1. Diagram of top-down and bottom-up stroke neurorehabilitation strategies. Sensory–motor training and brain stimulation contribute to rehabilitation protocols that exploit neural plasticity. The bottom-up approach includes sensory–motor training, which can be aided by robots, electrical stimulation of the periphery, and constrains. The top-down approaches include methods to stimulate the brain non-invasively.

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  1. #1 by Long Besa on June 11, 2017 - 21:04

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