Facilitating skilled right hand motor function in older subjects by anodal polarization over the left primary motor cortex

Neurobiol Aging. 2010 Dec;31(12):2160-8. doi: 10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2008.12.008. Epub 2009 Feb 6.


Healthy ageing is accompanied by limitations in performance of activities of daily living and personal independence. Recent reports demonstrated improvements in motor function induced by noninvasive anodal direct current stimulation (tDCS) of the primary motor cortex (M1) in young healthy adults. Here we tested the hypothesis that a single session of anodal tDCS over left M1 could facilitate performance of right upper extremity tasks required for activities of daily living (Jebsen-Taylor hand function test, JTT) in older subjects relative to Sham in a double-blind cross-over study design. We found (a) significant improvement in JTT function with tDCS relative to Sham that outlasted the stimulation period by at least 30 min, (b) that the older the subjects the more prominent this improvement appeared and (c) that consistent with previous results in younger subjects, these effects were not accompanied by any overt undesired side effect. We conclude that anodal tDCS applied over M1 can facilitate performance of skilled hand functions required for activities of daily living in older subjects.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living / psychology*
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Electric Stimulation Therapy / methods*
  • Female
  • Hand / innervation
  • Hand / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Cortex / physiology*
  • Motor Skills / physiology*
  • Movement Disorders / physiopathology
  • Movement Disorders / therapy