Posts Tagged Brain stimulation

[WEB SITE] Depression: Brain stimulation may be a good alternative treatment

A new review, which appears in The BMJ journal, examines the benefits of non-invasive brain stimulation for treating major depression and finds that the technique is a valid alternative to existing treatments.

doctor talking to patient

Doctors should consider brain stimulation as an alternative treatment for people living with severe depression, finds a new review

Over 17 million adults in the United States have had an episode of major depression at one point in their lives.

Some of these people have treatment-resistant depression, which means common prescription drugs do not alleviate the symptoms.

Recent studies have pointed to alternative treatment methods for major depression, such as non-invasive brain stimulation techniques.

For instance, a study that appeared at the end of last year showed that using small electric currents to stimulate a brain area called the orbitofrontal cortex significantly improves the mood of people who did not benefit from conventional antidepressants.

An even more recent trial of a form of brain stimulation called “transcranial alternating current stimulation” (tACS) found that the technique halved depression symptoms in almost 80 percent of the study participants.

Despite such promising results, doctors do not use these techniques widely, as there is not enough data available on their efficacy.

So, a team of researchers led by Julian Mutz at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience at King’s College London, United Kingdom, set out to review some clinical trials that have examined the benefits of non-invasive brain stimulation techniques for people living with depression.

Brain stimulation as additional treatment

Specifically, Mutz and team examined the results of 113 clinical trials. Overall, these trials included 6,750 participants who were 48 years old, on average, and were living with major depressive disorder or bipolar depression.

The original clinical trials involved randomly assigning these participants to 18 treatment interventions or “sham” therapies. The reviewers focussed on the response, or “efficacy” of the treatment, as well as the “discontinuation of treatment for any reason” — or “acceptability” of the therapies. Mutz and colleagues also rated the trials’ risk of bias.

The therapies included in the review were “electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), transcranial magnetic stimulation (repetitive (rTMS), accelerated, priming, deep, and synchronized), theta burst stimulation, magnetic seizure therapy, transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), or sham therapy.”

Of these, the treatments that the researchers in the original trial examined most often were high frequency left rTMS and tDCS, which they tested against sham therapy. On the other hand, not many trials covered more recent forms of brain stimulation, such as magnetic seizure therapy and bilateral theta burst stimulation, the review found.

Kutz and his team deemed 34 percent of the trials they reviewed as having a low risk of bias. They considered half of the trials to have an “unclear” risk of bias, and finally, 17 percent to have a high risk of bias. The newer the treatments, the higher was the uncertainty of the trials’ results.

The review found that bitemporal ECT, high dose right unilateral ECT, high frequency left rTMS and tDCS were all significantly more effective than sham therapy both in terms of efficacy and acceptability.

When considering “discontinuation of treatment for any reason,” the researchers found that the participants were not any likelier to discontinue brain stimulation treatments than they were sham therapy. Mutz and colleagues conclude:

These findings provide evidence for the consideration of non-surgical brain stimulation techniques as alternative or add-on treatments for adults with major depressive episodes.”

“These findings also highlight important research priorities in the specialty of brain stimulation, such as the need for further well-designed randomized controlled trials comparing novel treatments, and sham-controlled trials investigating magnetic seizure therapy,” the authors add.

Finally, the researchers also note that their results have clinical implications, “in that they will inform clinicians, patients, and healthcare providers on the relative merits of multiple non-surgical brain stimulation techniques.”

via Depression: Brain stimulation may be a good alternative treatment

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[Abstract] Modulation of Cerebellar Cortical Plasticity Using Low-Intensity Focused Ultrasound for Poststroke Sensorimotor Function Recovery

Background. Stroke affects widespread brain regions through interhemispheric connections by influencing bilateral motor activity. Several noninvasive brain stimulation techniques have proved their capacity to compensate the functional loss by manipulating the neural activity of alternative pathways. Over the past few decades, brain stimulation therapies have been tailored within the theoretical framework of modulation of cortical excitability to enhance adaptive plasticity after stroke.

Objective. However, considering the vast difference between animal and human cerebral cortical structures, it is important to approach specific neuronal target starting from the higher order brain structure for human translation. The present study focuses on stimulating the lateral cerebellar nucleus (LCN), which sends major cerebellar output to extensive cortical regions.

Methods. In this study, in vivo stroke mouse LCN was exposed to low-intensity focused ultrasound (LIFU). After the LIFU exposure, animals underwent 4 weeks of rehabilitative training.

Results. During the cerebellar LIFU session, motor-evoked potentials (MEPs) were generated in both forelimbs accompanying excitatory sonication parameter. LCN stimulation group on day 1 after stroke significantly enhanced sensorimotor recovery compared with the group without stimulation. The recovery has maintained for a 4-week period in 2 behavior tests. Furthermore, we observed a significantly decreased level of brain edema and tissue swelling in the affected hemisphere 3 days after the stroke.

Conclusions. This study provides the first evidence showing that LIFU-induced cerebellar modulation could be an important strategy for poststroke recovery. A longer follow-up study is, however, necessary in order to fully confirm the effects of LIFU on poststroke recovery.

via Modulation of Cerebellar Cortical Plasticity Using Low-Intensity Focused Ultrasound for Poststroke Sensorimotor Function Recovery – Hongchae Baek, Ki Joo Pahk, Min-Ju Kim, Inchan Youn, Hyungmin Kim, 2018

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[Abstract] Combined transcranial direct current stimulation with virtual reality exposure for posttraumatic stress disorder: Feasibility and pilot results



Facilitating neural activity using non-invasive brain stimulation may improve extinction-based treatments for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).


Here, we examined the feasibility of simultaneous transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) application during virtual reality (VR) to reduce psychophysiological arousal and symptoms in Veterans with PTSD.


Twelve Veterans with PTSD received six combat-related VR exposure sessions during sham-controlled tDCS targeting ventromedial prefrontal cortex. Primary outcome measures were changes in skin conductance-based arousal and self-reported PTSD symptom severity.


tDCS + VR components were combined without technical difficulty. We observed a significant interaction between reduction in arousal across sessions and tDCS group (p = .03), indicating that the decrease in physiological arousal was greater in the tDCS + VR versus sham group. We additionally observed a clinically meaningful reduction in PTSD symptom severity.


This study demonstrates feasibility of applying tDCS during VR. Preliminary data suggest a reduction in psychophysiological arousal and PTSD symptomatology, supporting future studies.

via Combined transcranial direct current stimulation with virtual reality exposure for posttraumatic stress disorder: Feasibility and pilot results – Brain Stimulation: Basic, Translational, and Clinical Research in Neuromodulation

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[WEB PAGE] Study offers possibility of squelching a focal epilepsy seizure before symptoms appear

Patients with focal epilepsy that does not respond to medications badly need alternative treatments.

In a first-in-humans pilot study, researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham have identified a sentinel area of the brain that may give an early warning before clinical seizure manifestations appear. They have also validated an algorithm that can automatically detect that early warning.

These two findings offer the possibility of squelching a focal epilepsy seizure — before the patient feels any symptoms — through neurostimulation of the sentinel area of the brain. This is somewhat akin to the way an implantable defibrillator in the heart can staunch heart arrhythmias before they injure the heart.

In the pilot study, three epilepsy patients undergoing brain surgery to map the source of their focal epilepsy seizures also gave consent to add an investigational aspect to their planned surgeries.

As neurosurgeons inserted long, thin, needle-like electrodes into the brain to map the location of the electrical storm that initiates an epileptic seizure, they also carefully positioned the electrodes to add one more task — simultaneously record the electrical activity at the anterior nucleus of the thalamus.

The thalamus is a structure sitting deep in the brain that is well connected with other parts of the brain. The thalamus controls sleep and wakefulness, so it often is called the “pacemaker” of the brain. Importantly, preclinical studies have shown that focal sources of seizures in the cortex can recruit other parts of the brain to help generate a seizure. One of these recruited areas is the anterior thalamic nucleus.

The UAB team led by Sandipan Pati, M.D., assistant professor of neurology, found that nearly all of the epileptic seizures detected in the three patients — which began in focal areas of the cortex outside of the thalamus — also recruited seizure-like electrical activity in the anterior thalamic nucleus after a very short time lag. Importantly, both of these initial electrical activities appeared before any clinical manifestations of the seizures.

The UAB researchers also used electroencelphalography, or EEG, brain recordings from the patients to develop and validate an algorithm that was able to automatically detect initiation of that seizure-like electrical activity in the anterior thalamic nucleus.

“This exciting finding opens up an avenue to develop brain stimulation therapy that can alter activities in the cortex by stimulating the thalamus in response to a seizure,” Pati said. “Neurostimulation of the thalamus, instead of the cortex, would avoid interference with cognition, in particular, memory.”

“In epilepsy, different aspects of memory go down,” Pati explained. “Particularly long-term memory, like remembering names, or remembering events. The common cause is that epilepsy affects the hippocampus, the structure that is the brain’s memory box.”

Pati said these first three patients were a feasibility study, and none of the patients had complications from their surgeries. The UAB team is now extending the study to another dozen patients to confirm the findings.

“Hopefully, after the bigger group is done, we can consider stimulating the thalamus,” Pati said. That next step would have the goals of improved control of seizures and improved cognition, vigilance and memory for patients.

For epilepsy patients where medications have failed, the surgery to map the source of focal seizures is a prelude to two current treatment options — epilepsy surgery to remove part of the brain or continuous, deep-brain stimulation. If the UAB research is successful, deep brain stimulation would be given automatically, only as the seizure initiates, and it would be targeted at the thalamus, where the stimulation might interfere less with memory.


via Study offers possibility of squelching a focal epilepsy seizure before symptoms appear

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[ARTICLE] Null Effects on Working Memory and Verbal Fluency Tasks When Applying Anodal tDCS to the Inferior Frontal Gyrus of Healthy Participants – Full Text

Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is a technique used to modify cognition by modulating underlying cortical excitability via weak electric current applied through the scalp. Although many studies have reported positive effects with tDCS, a number of recent studies highlight that tDCS effects can be small and difficult to reproduce. This is especially the case when attempting to modulate performance using single applications of tDCS in healthy participants. Possible reasons may be that optimal stimulation parameters have yet to be identified, and that individual variation in cortical activity and/or level of ability confound outcomes. To address these points, we carried out a series of experiments in which we attempted to modulate performance in fluency and working memory probe tasks using stimulation parameters which have been associated with positive outcomes: we targeted the left inferior frontal gyrus (LIFG) and compared performance when applying a 1.5 mA anodal current for 25 min and with sham stimulation. There is evidence that LIFG plays a role in these tasks and previous studies have found positive effects of stimulation. We also compared our experimental group (N = 19–20) with a control group receiving no stimulation (n = 24). More importantly, we also considered effects on subgroups subdivided according to memory span as well as to more direct measures of executive function abilities and motivational levels. We found no systematic effect of stimulation. Our findings are in line with a growing body of evidence that tDCS produces unreliable effects. We acknowledge that our findings speak to the conditions we investigated, and that alternative protocols (e.g., multiple sessions, clinical samples, and different stimulation polarities) may be more effective. We encourage further research to explore optimal conditions for tDCS efficacy, given the potential benefits that this technique poses for understanding and enhancing cognition.


Transcranial direct current stimulation (or tDCS) is a non-invasive form of brain stimulation which is used to modulate cognitive performance by applying a weak electric current via electrodes placed on the scalp. Early studies measuring effects of tDCS on motor cortical excitability suggested that the applied current can cause directional changes in the resting membrane potentials underneath the electrodes—with predominant depolarization under the anode (known as anodal tDCS) vs. hyperpolarization under the cathode (cathodal tDCS; de Berker et al., 2013). It is widely assumed that effects on cortical excitability map on to cognitive effects, with anodal vs. cathodal tDCS improving vs. worsening the cognitive function of targeted brains regions. However, though widely assumed, this might not necessarily be the case. Current flows between the electrodes with complex effects that are poorly understood. Moreover, an important confounding factor modulating the impact of tDCS may be individual variation in cortical activity and/or level of ability (for reviews, see Miniussi et al., 2013Horvath et al., 2015Li et al., 2015Westwood and Romani, 2017Westwood et al., 2017). These are widely cited as explanations for a number of recent reports of negative, inconsistent, and/or small effects linked to single applications of tDCS especially in healthy participants (see Horvath et al., 2015Mancuso et al., 2016Westwood et al., 2017). Our study will contribute to clarify the scope of tDCS effects by considering tasks that tax executive selection abilities, mediated by the frontal lobes, and where positive, but inconsistent, effects have been reported before. We will consider effects on the whole participant group, but crucially also on subgroups subdivided according to (a) general performance and control abilities; (b) working memory span; and (c) motivation levels to see whether these variables affect tDCS outcomes.[…]


Continue —> Frontiers | Null Effects on Working Memory and Verbal Fluency Tasks When Applying Anodal tDCS to the Inferior Frontal Gyrus of Healthy Participants | Neuroscience

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[WEB SITE] Brain-Machine Interface Shows Potential for Hand Paralysis – Rehab Managment

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The use of a brain-machine interface shows potential for helping to restore function in stroke patients with hand paralysis, according to a study of healthy adults published in the Journal of Neuroscience.

According to the study, researchers note that the brain-machine interface, which is designed to combine brain stimulation with a robotic device that controls hand movement, increases the output of pathways connecting the brain and spinal cord.

Researchers Alireza Gharabaghi and colleagues asked participants to imagine opening their hand without actually making any movement while their hand was placed in a device that passively opened and closed their fingers as it received the necessary input from their brain activity. Stimulating the hand area of the motor cortex at the same time, but not after, the robotic device initiated hand movement increased the strength of the neural signal, most likely by harnessing the processing power of additional neurons in the corticospinal tract, explains a media release from the Society for Neuroscience.

However, the signal decreased when participants were not required to imagine moving their hand. Delivering brain stimulation and robotic motor feedback simultaneously during rehabilitation may therefore be beneficial for patients who have lost voluntary muscle control, the release continues.

[Source(s): Society for Neuroscience]

via Brain-Machine Interface Shows Potential for Hand Paralysis – Rehab Managment

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[Editorial] Motor Priming for Motor Recovery: Neural Mechanisms and Clinical Perspectives – Neurology

Editorial on the Research Topic

Motor Priming for Motor Recovery: Neural Mechanisms and Clinical Perspectives

The Oxford dictionary defines the term priming as “a substance that prepares something for use or action.” In this special issue, we define motor priming as a technique, experience, or activity targeting the motor cortex resulting in subsequent changes in motor behavior. Inadequate functional recovery after neural damage is a persisting burden for many, and this insufficiency highlights the need for new neurorehabilitation paradigms that facilitate the capacity of the brain to learn and recover. The concept of motor priming has gained importance in the last decade. Numerous motor priming paradigms have emerged to demonstrate success to improve functional recovery after injury. Some of the successful priming paradigms that have shown to alter motor behavior and are easily implementable in clinical practice include non-invasive brain stimulation, movement priming, motor imagery, and sensory priming. The full clinical impact of these priming paradigms has not yet been realized due to limited evidence regarding neural mechanisms, safety and effectiveness, dosage, individualization of parameters, identification of the appropriate therapies that need to be provided in combination with the priming technique, and the vital time window to maximize the effectiveness of priming. In this special issue, four manuscripts address critical questions that will enhance our understanding of motor priming paradigms and attempt to bridge the gap between neurophysiology and clinical implementation.

In their study, “Non-Invasive Brain Stimulation to Enhance Upper Limb Motor Practice Poststroke: A Model for Selection of Cortical Site,” Harris-Love and Harrington elegantly address the extremely important issue of individualizing brain stimulation for upper limb stroke recovery. Many brain stimulation techniques show high interindividual variability and low reliability as the “one-size-for-all” does not fit the vast heterogeneity in recovery observed in stroke survivors. In this article, the authors propose a novel framework that personalizes the application of non-invasive brain stimulation based on understanding of the structural anatomy, neural connectivity, and task attributes. They further provide experimental support for this idea with data from severely impaired stroke survivors that validate the proposed framework.

The issue of heterogeneity poststroke is also addressed by Lefebvre and Liew in “Anatomical Parameters of tDCS to modulate the motor system after stroke: A review.” These authors discuss the variability in research using tDCS for the poststroke population. According to the authors, the most likely sources of variability include the heterogeneity of poststroke populations and the experimental paradigms. Individually based variability of results could be related to various factors including: (1) molecular factors such as baseline measures of GABA, levels of dopamine receptor activity, and propensity of brain-derived neurotropic factor expression; (2) time poststroke, (3) lesion location; (4) type of stroke; and (5) level of poststroke motor impairment. Variability related to experimental paradigms include the timing of the stimulation (pre- or post-training), the experimental task, and whether the protocol emphasizes motor performance (a temporary change in motor ability) or motor learning based (more permanent change in motor ability). Finally, the numerous possibilities of electrode placement, neural targets, and the different setups (monocephalic versus bi-hemispheric) add further complexity. For future work with the poststroke population, the authors suggest that tDCS experimental paradigms explore individualized neural targets determined by neuronavigation.

In another exciting study in this issue, Estes et al. tackle the timely topic of spinal reflex excitability modulated by motor priming in individuals with spinal cord injury. The authors choose to test four non-pharmacological interventions: stretching, continuous passive motion, transcranial direct current stimulation, and transcutaneous spinal cord stimulation to reduce spasticity. Three out of four techniques were associated with reduction in spasticity immediately after treatment, to an extent comparable to pharmacological approaches. These priming approaches provide a low-cost and low-risk alternative to anti-spasticity medications.

In another clinical study in individuals with spinal cord injury, Gomes-Osman et al. examined effects of two different approaches to priming. Participants were randomized to either peripheral nerve stimulation (PNS) plus functional task practice, PNS alone, or conventional exercise therapy. The findings were unexpected. There was no change in somatosensory function or power grip strength in any of the groups. Interestingly, all of the interventions produced changes in precision grip of the weaker hand following training. However, only PNS plus functional task practice improved precision grip in both hands. The authors found that baseline corticospinal excitability were significantly correlated to changes in precision grip strength of the weaker hand. The lack of change in grip strength in any of the groups was surprising. Previous evidence suggests, however, that the corticomotor system is more strongly activated during precision grip as compared to power grip, and the authors suggest that interventions targeting the corticomotor system (i.e., various priming methods) may more strongly effect precision grip.

Overall, this special issue brings together an array of original research articles and reviews that further enhance our understanding of motor priming for motor recovery with an emphasis on neural mechanisms and clinical implementation. We hope that the studies presented encourage future studies on motor priming paradigms to optimize the potential for functional recovery in the neurologically disadvantaged population, and further our understanding of neuroplasticity after injury.

Author Contributions

SM and MS have made a substantial, direct, and intellectual contribution to the work and approved it for publication.

Conflict of Interest Statement

The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.


SM is supported by funding from the National Institutes of Health (R01HD075777).

Source: Frontiers | Editorial: Motor Priming for Motor Recovery: Neural Mechanisms and Clinical Perspectives | Neurology

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[Abstract] Virtual reality and non-invasive brain stimulation in stroke: How effective is their combination for upper limb motor improvement?


Upper limb (UL) hemiparesis is frequently a disabling consequence of stroke. The ability to improve UL functioning is associated with motor relearning and experience dependent neuroplasticity. Interventions such as non-invasive brain stimulation (NIBS) and task-practice in virtual environments (VEs) can influence motor relearning as well as adaptive plasticity. However, the effectiveness of a combination of NIBS and task-practice in VEs on UL motor improvement has not been systematically examined. The objective of this review was to examine the evidence regarding the effectiveness of combining NIBS with task-practice in VEs on UL motor impairment and activity levels. A systematic review of the published literature was conducted using standard methodology. Study quality was assessed using the PEDro scale and Down’s and Black checklist. Four studies examining the effects of a combination of NIBS (involving transcranial direct current stimulation; tDCS and repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation; rTMS) were retrieved. Of these, three studies were randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and one was a cross-sectional study. There was 1a level evidence that the combination of NIBS and task-practice in a VE was beneficial in the sub-acute stage. A combination of training in a VE with rTMS as well as tDCS was beneficial for motor improvements in the UL in sub-acute stage of stroke (1b level). The combination was not found to be superior compared to task practice in VEs alone in the chronic stage (1b level). The results suggest that people with stroke may be capable of improving levels of motor impairment and activity in the sub-acute stage if their rehabilitation program involves a combination on NIBS and VE training. Emergent questions regarding the use of more sensitive outcomes, different types of stimulation parameters, locations and training environments still need to be addressed.

Source: Virtual reality and non-invasive brain stimulation in stroke: How effective is their combination for upper limb motor improvement? – IEEE Xplore Document

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[ARTICLE] Does non-invasive brain stimulation modify hand dexterity? Protocol for a systematic review and meta-analysis – Full Text



Introduction Dexterity is described as coordinated hand and finger movement for precision tasks. It is essential for day-to-day activities like computer use, writing or buttoning a shirt. Integrity of brain motor networks is crucial to properly execute these fine hand tasks. When these networks are damaged, interventions to enhance recovery are frequently accompanied by unwanted side effects or limited in their effect. Non-invasive brain stimulation (NIBS) are postulated to target affected motor areas and improve hand motor function with few side effects. However, the results across studies vary, and the current literature does not allow us to draw clear conclusions on the use of NIBS to promote hand function recovery. Therefore, we developed a protocol for a systematic review and meta-analysis on the effects of different NIBS technologies on dexterity in diverse populations. This study will potentially help future evidence-based research and guidelines that use these NIBS technologies for recovering hand dexterity.

Methods and analysis This protocol will compare the effects of active versus sham NIBS on precise hand activity. Records will be obtained by searching relevant databases. Included articles will be randomised clinical trials in adults, testing the therapeutic effects of NIBS on continuous dexterity data. Records will be studied for risk of bias. Narrative and quantitative synthesis will be done.

Strengths and limitations of this study

  • This is a novel systematic review and meta-analysis focusing specifically on dexterity.

  • We use continuous data not dependent on the evaluator or participant.

  • This work will potentially help future evidence-based research and guidelines to refine non-invasive brain stimulation.


The hand’s somatotopy is extensively represented in the human motor cortex.1 2 Phylogenetically, this relates to the development of corticomotoneuronal cells that specialise in creating patterns of muscle activity that synergises into highly skilled movements.3 This organised hand-and-finger movement to use objects during a specific task is known as dexterity.4 Evolutionary, dexterity played a pivotal role in human survival and is fundamental to actives of daily living, and hence quality of life.5 6

This precision motor movement relies on integration of information from the cerebral cortex, the spinal cord, several neuromusculoskeletal systems and the external world to coordinate finger force control, finger independence, timing and sequence performance.7 During these tasks, multivoxel pattern decoding shows bilateral primary motor cortex activation (M1), which was responsible for muscle recruitment timing and hand movement coordination.8 9 This is related to motor cortex connectivity through the corpus callosum, to motor regions of the cerebellum and white matter integrity.10–15 Adequate motor output translates into successfully executed tasks, like picking up objects, turning over cards, manipulating cutlery, writing, using computer–hand interfaces like smartphones, playing an instrument and performing many other similarly precise skills.16

These motor tasks are negatively impacted when motor output networks are affected, as seen in stroke or Parkinson’s disease.17 18 Therapeutic interventions that restore these damaged motor networks can be vital to restore fine motor movement after injury occurs. Pharmaceutical approaches often lead to adverse effects such as dyskinesias in Parkinson’s disease. Moreover, even after intensive rehabilitation programmes, only about 5%–20% of patients with stroke fully recover their motor function.19–21 Non-invasive brain stimulation (NIBS) techniques, like transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) and repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), are proposed adjuvant or stand-alone interventions to target these affected areas and improve fine motor function.22 23 Briefly, these NIBS interventions are shown to influence the nervous system’s excitability and modulate long-term plasticity, which may be beneficial to the brain’s recovery of functions after injury.24–27

Fine hand motor ability is not studied as much in previous reviews of NIBS. Specifically, one narrative review focuses on rTMS in affected hand recovery poststroke; however, it does not consider the implications of varying International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) domains, data types and rater dependent outcomes, and its interpretability is limited without quantitative synthesis.28–31 The overarching conclusion was supportive of rTMS for paretic hand recovery, though with limited data to support its regular use, and a pressing need to study individualised patient parameters.28 One meta-analysis had positive and significant results when specifically studying the effects of rTMS on finger coordination and hand function after stroke.32 However, while various meta-analysis, and another systematic review, studied upper-limb movement after NIBS in distinct populations, they did not focus on precise hand function, pooled upper-limb outcomes with hand outcomes and presented mixed results.33–38

Motivated by this gap in the evidence for NIBS in dexterity, we will do a systematic review and meta-analysis of the literature on these brain stimulation technologies using outcomes that focus exactly on manual dexterity. These outcomes will be continuous and not dependent on the participant’s or rater’s observation (ie, they will be measured in seconds, or number of blocks/pegs placed, and not by an individual’s interpretation). They will be comprised of multiple domains as defined by the ICF, providing an appreciation of function rather than only condition or disease.29–31 By focusing on the ICF model, we will be able to study dexterity across a larger sample of studies, NIBS techniques and conditions in order to provide a better understanding of brain stimulation efficacy on hand function in various populations.[…]

Continue —. Does non-invasive brain stimulation modify hand dexterity? Protocol for a systematic review and meta-analysis | BMJ Open

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[ARTICLE] Non-Invasive Brain Stimulation to Enhance Upper Limb Motor Practice Poststroke: A Model for Selection of Cortical Site – Full Text

Motor practice is an essential part of upper limb motor recovery following stroke. To be effective, it must be intensive with a high number of repetitions. Despite the time and effort required, gains made from practice alone are often relatively limited, and substantial residual impairment remains. Using non-invasive brain stimulation to modulate cortical excitability prior to practice could enhance the effects of practice and provide greater returns on the investment of time and effort. However, determining which cortical area to target is not trivial. The implications of relevant conceptual frameworks such as Interhemispheric Competition and Bimodal Balance Recovery are discussed. In addition, we introduce the STAC (Structural reserve, Task Attributes, Connectivity) framework, which incorporates patient-, site-, and task-specific factors. An example is provided of how this framework can assist in selecting a cortical region to target for priming prior to reaching practice poststroke. We suggest that this expanded patient-, site-, and task-specific approach provides a useful model for guiding the development of more successful approaches to neuromodulation for enhancing motor recovery after stroke.

Poststroke Arm Impairment

Upper limb motor impairment following stroke is highly prevalent and often persists even after intensive rehabilitation efforts (14). It is also one of the most disabling of stroke sequela, limiting functional independence and precluding return to work and other roles (5).

Upper extremity motor control relies heavily on input transmitted via the corticospinal tract (CST). The CST descends through the posterior limb of the internal capsule, an area vulnerable to middle cerebral artery stroke and in which CST fibers are densely packed. Thus, even a small lesion in this location can have devastating effects on motor function (69). A loss of voluntary wrist and finger extension is particularly common and appears to be related to the extent of CST damage (10). There is also evidence that those who retain wrist extension and have considerable CST sparing are more likely to be responsive to existing therapies (7811).

However, even individuals who lack voluntary wrist and finger extension often retain some ability to move the shoulder and elbow. Unfortunately, only a few stereotyped movement patterns can be performed and these are often not functional. The combination of shoulder flexion with elbow extension that is required for most functional reaching tasks, for example, is frequently lost. Nevertheless, previous studies have demonstrated that reaching practice with trunk restraint can improve unconstrained reaching ability, even in patients who lack wrist and finger extension (1215). Still, a great deal of time and effort is required and the improvements are relatively small.

Non-Invasive Brain Stimulation

Non-invasive brain stimulation offers a potential method of enhancing the effects of practice and thus giving patients greater returns on their investment of time and effort. Approaches to non-invasive brain stimulation are rapidly expanding but generally fall into two major categories: transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and transcranial electrical stimulation [TES; see Ref. (16) for overview of non-invasive techniques for neuromodulation]. These modalities are applied to the scalp overlying a specific cortical area that is being targeted. The level of spatial specificity varies depending on many factors including the modality used (TMS is generally more precise than TES), the stimulation intensity (higher intensity results in a more widespread effect), and the architecture of the underlying tissue. The excitability of the underlying pool of neurons can be modulated by varying stimulation parameters such as the frequency and temporal pattern of the stimuli. Therefore, stimulation can be used to temporarily inhibit or facilitate the underlying cortical area for a sustained period of time after the stimulation ends (usually 20–40 min). In this way, non-invasive brain stimulation could be used to “prime” relevant cortical areas before a bout of practice, potentially enhancing the effects of practice. However, there is little guidance for how such cortical sites might be selected and in which direction (inhibition or facilitation) their activity should be modulated. Conceptual models that could offer such guidance are considered below.

Mechanistic Models to Guide Neuromodulation

Continue —> Frontiers | Non-Invasive Brain Stimulation to Enhance Upper Limb Motor Practice Poststroke: A Model for Selection of Cortical Site | Neurology

Figure 1. On randomly delivered trials, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) perturbation was applied just after a “Go” cue. The effect of this pre-movement perturbation on the speed of the subsequent reaching movement is expressed relative to that in trials with no TMS perturbation. The amount of slowing due to TMS perturbation of the lesioned vs. non-lesioned hemispheres is shown for patients with good structural reserve (left) and patients with poor structural reserve (right).

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