Modulating functional connectivity patterns and topological functional organization of the human brain with transcranial direct current stimulation

Hum Brain Mapp. 2011 Aug;32(8):1236-49. doi: 10.1002/hbm.21104. Epub 2010 Jul 6.


Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is a noninvasive brain stimulation technique that alters cortical excitability and activity in a polarity-dependent way. Stimulation for few minutes has been shown to induce plastic alterations of cortical excitability and to improve cognitive performance. These effects might be caused by stimulation-induced alterations of functional cortical network connectivity. We aimed to investigate the impact of tDCS on cortical network function through functional connectivity and graph theoretical analysis. Single recordings in healthy volunteers with 62 electroencephalography channels were acquired before and after 10 min of facilitatory anodal tDCS over the primary motor cortex (M1), combined with inhibitory cathodal tDCS of the contralateral frontopolar cortex, in resting state and during voluntary hand movements. Correlation matrices containing all 62 pairwise electrode combinations were calculated with the synchronization likelihood (SL) method and thresholded to construct undirected graphs for the θ, α, β, low-γ and high-γ frequency bands. SL matrices and undirected graphs were compared before and after tDCS. Functional connectivity patterns significantly increased within premotor, motor, and sensorimotor areas of the stimulated hemisphere during motor activity in the 60-90 Hz frequency range. Additionally, tDCS-induced significant intrahemispheric and interhemispheric connectivity changes in all the studied frequency bands. In summary, we show for the first time evidence for tDCS-induced changes in brain synchronization and topological functional organization.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain Mapping / methods*
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Electroencephalography
  • Evoked Potentials, Motor / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Movement / physiology
  • Nerve Net / physiology*