1H MR spectroscopy of the motor cortex immediately following transcranial direct current stimulation at 7 Tesla
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Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is a form of non-invasive brain stimulation that may modulate cortical excitability, metabolite concentration, and human behaviour. The supplementary motor area (SMA) has been largely ignored as a potential target for tDCS neurorehabilitation but is an important region in motor compensation after brain injury with strong efferent connections to the primary motor cortex (M1). The objective of this work was to measure tissue metabolite changes in the human motor cortex immediately following tDCS. We hypothesized that bihemispheric tDCS would change levels of metabolites involved in neuromodulation including N-acetylaspartate (NAA), glutamate (Glu), and creatine (tCr). In this single-blind, randomized, cross-over study, fifteen healthy adults aged 21–60 participated in two 7T MRI sessions, to identify changes in metabolite concentrations by magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Immediately after 20 minutes of tDCS, there were no significant changes in metabolite levels or metabolite ratios comparing tDCS to sham. However there was a trend toward increased NAA/tCr concentration (p = 0.08) in M1 under the stimulating cathode. There was a strong, positive correlation between the change in the absolute concentration of NAA and the change in the absolute concentration of tCr (p<0.001) suggesting an effect of tDCS. Both NAA and creatine are important markers of neurometabolism. Our findings provide novel insight into the modulation of neural metabolites in the motor cortex immediately following application of bihemispheric tDCS.