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      Non-invasive brain stimulation in neurorehabilitation: local and distant effects for motor recovery


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          Non-invasive brain stimulation (NIBS) may enhance motor recovery after neurological injury through the causal induction of plasticity processes. Neurological injury, such as stroke, often results in serious long-term physical disabilities, and despite intensive therapy, a large majority of brain injury survivors fail to regain full motor function. Emerging research suggests that NIBS techniques, such as transcranial magnetic (TMS) and direct current (tDCS) stimulation, in association with customarily used neurorehabilitative treatments, may enhance motor recovery. This paper provides a general review on TMS and tDCS paradigms, the mechanisms by which they operate and the stimulation techniques used in neurorehabilitation, specifically stroke. TMS and tDCS influence regional neural activity underlying the stimulation location and also distant interconnected network activity throughout the brain. We discuss recent studies that document NIBS effects on global brain activity measured with various neuroimaging techniques, which help to characterize better strategies for more accurate NIBS stimulation. These rapidly growing areas of inquiry may hold potential for improving the effectiveness of NIBS-based interventions for clinical rehabilitation.

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            Anodal transcranial direct current stimulation of prefrontal cortex enhances working memory.

            Previous studies have claimed that weak transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) induces persisting excitability changes in the human motor cortex that can be more pronounced than cortical modulation induced by transcranial magnetic stimulation, but there are no studies that have evaluated the effects of tDCS on working memory. Our aim was to determine whether anodal transcranial direct current stimulation, which enhances brain cortical excitability and activity, would modify performance in a sequential-letter working memory task when administered to the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC). Fifteen subjects underwent a three-back working memory task based on letters. This task was performed during sham and anodal stimulation applied over the left DLPFC. Moreover seven of these subjects performed the same task, but with inverse polarity (cathodal stimulation of the left DLPFC) and anodal stimulation of the primary motor cortex (M1). Our results indicate that only anodal stimulation of the left prefrontal cortex, but not cathodal stimulation of left DLPFC or anodal stimulation of M1, increases the accuracy of the task performance when compared to sham stimulation of the same area. This accuracy enhancement during active stimulation cannot be accounted for by slowed responses, as response times were not changed by stimulation. Our results indicate that left prefrontal anodal stimulation leads to an enhancement of working memory performance. Furthermore, this effect depends on the stimulation polarity and is specific to the site of stimulation. This result may be helpful to develop future interventions aiming at clinical benefits.
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              Influence of interhemispheric interactions on motor function in chronic stroke.

              In patients with chronic stroke, the primary motor cortex of the intact hemisphere (M1(intact hemisphere)) may influence functional recovery, possibly through transcallosal effects exerted over M1 in the lesioned hemisphere (M1(lesioned hemisphere)). Here, we studied interhemispheric inhibition (IHI) between M1(intact hemisphere) and M1(lesioned hemisphere) in the process of generation of a voluntary movement by the paretic hand in patients with chronic subcortical stroke and in healthy volunteers. IHI was evaluated in both hands preceding the onset of unilateral voluntary index finger movements (paretic hand in patients, right hand in controls) in a simple reaction time paradigm. IHI at rest and shortly after the Go signal were comparable in patients and controls. Closer to movement onset, IHI targeting the moving index finger turned into facilitation in controls but remained deep in patients, a finding that correlated with poor motor performance. These results document an abnormally high interhemispheric inhibitory drive from M1(intact hemisphere) to M1(lesioned hemisphere) in the process of generation of a voluntary movement by the paretic hand. It is conceivable that this abnormality could adversely influence motor recovery in some patients with subcortical stroke, an interpretation consistent with models of interhemispheric competition in motor and sensory systems.

                Author and article information

                Front Hum Neurosci
                Front Hum Neurosci
                Front. Hum. Neurosci.
                Frontiers in Human Neuroscience
                Frontiers Media S.A.
                27 June 2014
                : 8
                1Human Cortical Physiology and Neurorehabilitation Section, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, NIH Bethesda, MD, USA
                2Department of Medicine, Surgery and Neuroscience, University of Siena Siena, Italy
                3Center for Neuroscience and Regenerative Medicine, Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences Bethesda, MD, USA
                Author notes

                Edited by: Edward Taub, University of Alabama at Birmingham, USA

                Reviewed by: Jack Van Honk, Utrecht University, Netherlands; Jane Allendorfer, University of Alabama at Birmingham, USA

                *Correspondence: Sook-Lei Liew and Leonardo G. Cohen, Human Cortical Physiology and Neurorehabilitation Section, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, NIH, 10 Center Drive, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA e-mail: lei.liew@ 123456nih.gov ; cohenl@ 123456ninds.nih.gov

                This article was submitted to the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.

                Copyright © 2014 Liew, Santarnecchi, Buch and Cohen.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

                Page count
                Figures: 3, Tables: 2, Equations: 0, References: 150, Pages: 15, Words: 11639
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