[ARTICLE] Effect of tDCS stimulation of motor cortex and cerebellum on EEG classification of motor imagery and sensorimotor band power – Full Text



Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is a technique for brain modulation that has potential to be used in motor neurorehabilitation. Considering that the cerebellum and motor cortex exert influence on the motor network, their stimulation could enhance motor functions, such as motor imagery, and be utilized for brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) during motor neurorehabilitation.


A new tDCS montage that influences cerebellum and either right-hand or feet motor area is proposed and validated with a simulation of electric field. The effect of current density (0, 0.02, 0.04 or 0.06 mA/cm2) on electroencephalographic (EEG) classification into rest or right-hand/feet motor imagery was evaluated on 5 healthy volunteers for different stimulation modalities: 1) 10-minutes anodal tDCS before EEG acquisition over right-hand or 2) feet motor cortical area, and 3) 4-seconds anodal tDCS during EEG acquisition either on right-hand or feet cortical areas before each time right-hand or feet motor imagery is performed. For each subject and tDCS modality, analysis of variance and Tukey-Kramer multiple comparisons tests (p <0.001) are used to detect significant differences between classification accuracies that are obtained with different current densities. For tDCS modalities that improved accuracy, t-tests (p <0.05) are used to compare μ and βband power when a specific current density is provided against the case of supplying no stimulation.


The proposed montage improved the classification of right-hand motor imagery for 4 out of 5 subjects when the highest current was applied for 10 minutes over the right-hand motor area. Although EEG band power changes could not be related directly to classification improvement, tDCS appears to affect variably different motor areas on μ and/or β band.


The proposed montage seems capable of enhancing right-hand motor imagery detection when the right-hand motor area is stimulated. Future research should be focused on applying higher currents over the feet motor cortex, which is deeper in the brain compared to the hand motor cortex, since it may allow observation of effects due to tDCS. Also, strategies for improving analysis of EEG respect to accuracy changes should be implemented.


Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is a noninvasive technique for brain stimulation where direct current is supplied through two or more electrodes in order to modulate temporally brain excitability [12]. This technique has shown potential to improve motor performance and motor learning [345]. Hence, it could be applied in motor neurorehabilitacion [1]. However, tDCS effects vary depending on several factors, such as the size or position of the stimulation electrodes and the current intensity that is applied [6] or the mental state of the user [7]. Therefore, it should be considered that outcomes of tDCS studies are the result of different affected brain networks that may be involved in attention and movements, among other processes.

Volitional locomotion requires automatic control of movement while the cerebral cortex provides commands that are transmitted by neural projections toward the brainstem and the spinal cord. This control involves predictive motor operations that link activity from the cerebral cortex, cerebellum, basal ganglia and brainstem in order to modify actions at the spinal cord level [8]. In general, this set of structures can be considered to form a motor network that allow voluntary movement.

Different parts of the cerebral cortex participate in the performance of self-initiated movement, like the supplementary motor (SMA), the primary motor (M1) and premotor (PM) areas. It is known that M1 is activated during motor execution. Excitatory effects of M1 have been studied with anodal stimulation [6], finding that activation of this region is related to higher motor evoked potentials (MEPs) and an increment of force movement on its associated body part area [910]. Moreover, M1 seems to be critical in the early phase of consolidation of motor skills during procedural motor learning [11], i.e., the implicit skill acquisition through the repeated practice of a task [12].

In addition, the SMA and PM influence M1 in order to program opportune precise motor commands when movement pattern is modified intentionally, based on information from temporoparietal cortices regarding to the body’s state [8]. The SMA contributes in the generation of anticipatory postural adjustments [13]. Consequently, its facilitatory stimulation seems to increase anticipatory postural adjustments amplitudes, to reduce the time required to perform movements during the learning task of sequential movements, and to produce early initiation of motor responses [141516]. These studies suggest the possibility of using SMA excitation during treatments for motor disorders, since hemiparesis after stroke involves the impairment of anticipatory motor control at the affected limb [17]. In addition, some studies propose the participation of the SMA in motor memory and both implicit and explicit motor learning [18192021], i.e, when new information is acquired without intending to do so and when acquisition of skill is conscious [22], respectively. Complimentary to the role of SMA, the PM is crucial for sensory-guided movement initiation and the consolidation of motor sequence learning during sleep [823], while its facilitation with anodal tDCS seems to enhance the excitability from the ipsilateral M1 [24], which may be useful for treatment of PM disorders.

As previously mentioned, the cerebellum is also involved in locomotion through the regulation of motor processes by influencing the cerebral cortex, among other neural structures. During adaptive control of movement, as in the gait process, it seems that loops that interconnect reciprocally motor cortical areas to the basal ganglia and cerebellum allow predictive control of locomotion and they exhibit correlation with movement parameters [825]. Regarding to studies about cerebellar stimulation, there is still not enough knowledge about the effects of tDCS on different neuronal populations and the afferent pathways, so results are variable among studies and their interpretation is more complex than for cerebral tDCS [26]. Furthermore, the topographical motor organization of the cerebellum is not clear yet [27]. Nevertheless, most studies base their experimental procedure on the existence of decussating cerebello-cerebral connections, even if there are also ipsilateral cerebello-cerebral tracts or inter-hemispheric cerebellar connections [28]. Hence, a cerebellar hemisphere is stimulated to affect cerebellar brain inhibition (CBI), which refers to the inherent suppression of cerebellum over the contralateral M1 [29]. For example, the supply of anodal and cathodal stimulation over the right cerebellum in [30] resulted in incremental and decremental CBI on the left M1, respectively. In contrast, there are some studies that suggest this expectation may be not always appropriate. In [31] it was shown that inhibitory transcranial magnetic stimulation (a stimulation technique that provides magnetic field pulses on the brain [32]) over the lateral right cerebellum led to procedural learning decrement for tasks performed with either the right or left hand, whereas inhibition of lateral left cerebellar hemisphere decreased learning only with the left hand. In addition, results from [33] showed that cathodal cerebellar tDCS worsened locomotor adaptation ipsilaterally. These two studies may provide a reference for using cerebellar inhibition for avoiding undesired brain activity changes during motor rehabilitation, such as compensatory movement habits that might contribute to maladaptative plasticity and hamper the goal of achieving a normal movement pattern [34]. […]

Continue —> Effect of tDCS stimulation of motor cortex and cerebellum on EEG classification of motor imagery and sensorimotor band power | Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation | Full Text

Fig. 1 tDCS montage. Scheme of tDCS electrodes position in reference to EEG electrodes and inion (left), and placement of tDCS electrodes on the EEG cap (right). Electrodes 1,2 and 3 are highlighted in red, green and blue, respectively


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