Is motor learning mediated by tDCS intensity?

PLoS One. 2013 Jun 24;8(6):e67344. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0067344. Print 2013.


Although tDCS has been shown to improve motor learning, previous studies reported rather small effects. Since physiological effects of tDCS depend on intensity, the present study evaluated this parameter in order to enhance the effect of tDCS on skill acquisition. The effect of different stimulation intensities of anodal tDCS (atDCS) was investigated in a double blind, sham controlled crossover design. In each condition, thirteen healthy subjects were instructed to perform a unimanual motor (sequence) learning task. Our results showed (1) a significant increase in the slope of the learning curve and (2) a significant improvement in motor performance at retention for 1.5 mA atDCS as compared to sham tDCS. No significant differences were reported between 1 mA atDCS and sham tDCS; and between 1.5 mA atDCS and 1 mA atDCS.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Learning / physiology*
  • Male
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Sleep / physiology
  • Task Performance and Analysis
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation*
  • Young Adult

Grant support

This work was supported by the Flanders Fund for Scientific Research [G075810]. Koen Cuypers is supported by the Special Research Fund UHasselt. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.