The effect of anodal transcranial direct current stimulation on motor sequence learning in healthy individuals: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Brain Cogn. 2016 Feb;102:1-12. doi: 10.1016/j.bandc.2015.11.005. Epub 2015 Dec 9.


A large number of studies have indicated the effect of anodal transcranial direct current stimulation (a-tDCS) on the primary motor cortex (M1) during motor skill training. The effects of a-tDCS on different stages of motor sequence learning are not yet completely understood. The purpose of this meta-analysis was to determine the effects of single and multiple sessions of a-tDCS on two different tasks: the sequential finger tapping task/serial reaction time task (SEQTAP/SRTT) and the sequential visual isometric pinch task (SVIPT). We searched electronic databases for M1 a-tDCS studies. Thirteen studies met the inclusion criteria. The results indicate that application of multiple sessions of a-tDCS, compared to single session a-tDCS induced a significant improvement in skill in both SEQTAP/SRTT and SVIPT. Retention after a single day and multiple days of a-tDCS was statistically significant for the SEQTAP/SRTT task but not for SVIPT. Therefore, our findings suggest that application of M1 a-tDCS across the three or five consecutive days can be helpful to improve motor sequence learning.

Keywords: Corticospinal excitability; Motor sequence learning; Primary motor cortex; Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS).

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Learning / physiology*
  • Motor Cortex / physiology*
  • Motor Skills / physiology*
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation / methods*