Modulating Motor Learning through Transcranial Direct-Current Stimulation: An Integrative View

Front Psychol. 2016 Dec 23;7:1981. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01981. eCollection 2016.


Motor learning consists of the ability to improve motor actions through practice playing a major role in the acquisition of skills required for high-performance sports or motor function recovery after brain lesions. During the last decades, it has been reported that transcranial direct-current stimulation (tDCS), consisting in applying weak direct current through the scalp, is able of inducing polarity-specific changes in the excitability of cortical neurons. This low-cost, painless and well-tolerated portable technique has found a wide-spread use in the motor learning domain where it has been successfully applied to enhance motor learning in healthy individuals and for motor recovery after brain lesion as well as in pathological states associated to motor deficits. The main objective of this mini-review is to offer an integrative view about the potential use of tDCS for human motor learning modulation. Furthermore, we introduce the basic mechanisms underlying immediate and long-term effects associated to tDCS along with important considerations about its limitations and progression in recent years.

Keywords: motor adaptation; motor learning; non-invasive brain stimulation; plasticity; skill learning; tDCS; transcranial electrical stimulation; use-dependent learning.

Publication types

  • Review