Differential effects of transcranial direct current stimulation on antiphase and inphase motor tasks: A pilot study

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Behavioural Brain Research



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© 2019 Elsevier B.V. Ageing is associated with a decline in motor function that critically interferes with activities of daily living involving manual dexterity. Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is a form of non-invasive brain stimulation that has been shown to enhance manual dexterity in healthy aging adults. The supplementary motor area (SMA) is involved in motor preparation and bimanual control; therefore, bihemispheric tDCS incorporating the SMA may preferentially enhance bimanual motor movements in healthy older adults. The aim of the current study was to determine if tDCS incorporating SMA could improve manual dexterity in older adults. Twenty-four adults, aged 67–84 participated in this double-blind, randomized, cross over design, pilot study. One group of participants (n = 17) were randomized to receive stimulation or sham on their first visit and received the contrary on their second visit, seven days later. A second group of participants (n = 10) received three consecutive days of tDCS while performing a motor task. Participants performed unimanual and bimanual hand movements while receiving 2 mA of tDCS. The total time for participants to complete three trials of each task was recorded. No significant differences in performance times were observed between single or tri session tDCS and sham conditions. However, tDCS had opposing effects on the motor consolidation of anti-phase and in-phase bimanual tasks. During the tri session paradigm, older adults improved performance learning of antiphase bimanual movements more quickly than inphase bimanual movements, suggesting a different mechanism of action of these two movements.

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