Consensus: Can transcranial direct current stimulation and transcranial magnetic stimulation enhance motor learning and memory formation?

Brain Stimul. 2008 Oct;1(4):363-9. doi: 10.1016/j.brs.2008.08.001. Epub 2008 Oct 7.


Noninvasive brain stimulation has developed as a promising tool for cognitive neuroscientists. Transcranial magnetic (TMS) and direct current (tDCS) stimulation allow researchers to purposefully enhance or decrease excitability in focal areas of the brain. The purpose of this article is to review information on the use of TMS and tDCS as research tools to facilitate motor memory formation, motor performance, and motor learning in healthy volunteers. Studies implemented so far have mostly focused on the ability of TMS and tDCS to elicit relatively short-lasting motor improvements and the mechanisms underlying these changes have been only partially investigated. Despite limitations, including the scarcity of data, work that has been already accomplished raises the exciting hypothesis that currently available noninvasive transcranial stimulation techniques could modulate motor learning and memory formation in healthy humans and potentially in patients with neurologic and psychiatric disorders.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Learning / physiology*
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation / methods*
  • Transcutaneous Electric Nerve Stimulation / methods*