Transcranial direct current stimulation of the primary motor cortex affects cortical drive to human musculature as assessed by intermuscular coherence.

The Journal of physiology, 2006; 577 (Pt 3) doi:10.1113/jphysiol.2006.116939

Authors: Power Hollie A, Norton Jonathan A, Porter Cheryl L, Doyle Zoe, Hui Isaiah et al.(1)

Affiliation: University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada T6G 2S2

Abstract: Intermuscular coherence analysis can be used to assess the common drive to muscles. Coherence in the beta-frequency band (15-35 Hz) is thought to arise from common cortical sources. Intermuscular coherence analysis is a potentially attractive tool for the investigation of motor cortical excitability changes because it is non-invasive and can be done relatively quickly. We carried out this study to test the hypothesis that intermuscular coherence analysis was able to detect cortical excitability changes in healthy subjects following transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS). tDCS has been shown to increase (anodal stimulation) or decrease (cathodal stimulation) the size of the muscle potential evoked by TMS. We found that anodal tDCS caused an increase in motor evoked potential (MEP) size that was paralleled by an increase in beta-band intermuscular coherence. Similarly, the reduction in MEP size produced by cathodal tDCS was paralleled by a reduction in beta-band intermuscular coherence, while sham stimulation did not result in any change in either MEP amplitude or beta-band intermuscular coherence. The similar pattern of change observed for MEP and intermuscular coherence may indicate similar mechanisms of action, although this cannot be assumed without further investigation. These changes do suggest that at least some of the action of tDCS is on cortical networks, and that combined tDCS and intermuscular coherence analysis may be useful in the diagnosis of pathologies affecting motor cortical excitability.

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