No effect of anodal tDCS on motor cortical excitability and no evidence for responders in a large double-blind placebo-controlled trial

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Abstract

Background: Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) has emerged as a non-invasive brain stimulation technique. Most studies show that anodal tDCS increases cortical excitability. However, this effect has been found to be highly variable. Objective: To test the effect of anodal tDCS on cortical excitability and the interaction effect of two participant-specific factors that may explain individual differences in sensitivity to anodal tDCS: the Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor Val66Met polymorphism (BDNF genotype) and the latency difference between anterior-posterior and lateromedial TMS pulses (APLM latency). Methods: In 62 healthy participants, cortical excitability over the left motor cortex was measured before and after anodal tDCS at 2 mA for 20 min in a pre-registered, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial with repeated measures. Results: We did not find a main effect of anodal tDCS, nor an interaction effect of the participant-specific predictors. Moreover, further analyses did not provide evidence for the existence of responders and non-responders. Conclusion: This study indicates that anodal tDCS at 2 mA for 20 min may not reliably affect cortical excitability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)100-109
Number of pages10
JournalBrain Stimulation
Volume14
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021

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