Neuroplasticity and network connectivity of the motor cortex following stroke: A transcranial direct current stimulation study

Hum Brain Mapp. 2018 Aug;39(8):3326-3339. doi: 10.1002/hbm.24079. Epub 2018 Apr 14.


Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is a noninvasive brain stimulation technique that has potential for clinical utility in neurorehabilitation. However, recent evidence indicates that the responses to tDCS are highly variable. This study investigated whether electroencephalographic (EEG) measures of functional connectivity of the target network were associated with the response to ipsilesional anodal tDCS in stroke survivors. Ten chronic stroke patients attended two experimental sessions in a randomized cross-over trial and received anodal or sham tDCS. Single-pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation was used to quantify change in corticospinal excitability following tDCS. At the beginning of each session, functional connectivity was estimated using the debiased-weighted phase lag index from EEG recordings at rest. Magnetic resonance imaging identified lesion location and lesion volume. Partial least squares regression identified models of connectivity which maximally accounted for variance in anodal tDCS responses. Stronger connectivity of a network with a seed approximating the stimulated ipsilesional motor cortex, and clusters of electrodes approximating the ipsilesional parietal cortex and contralesional frontotemporal cortex in the alpha band (8-13 Hz) was strongly associated with a greater increase of corticospinal excitability following anodal tDCS. This association was not observed following sham stimulation. Addition of a structural measure(s) of injury (lesion volume) provided an improved model fit for connectivity between the seed electrode and ipsilesional parietal cortex, but not the contralesional frontotemporal cortex. TDCS has potential to greatly assist stroke rehabilitation and functional connectivity appears a robust and specific biomarker of response which may assist clinical translation of this therapy.

Keywords: electroencephalography; magnetic resonance imaging; motor cortex; plasticity; stroke; transcranial direct current stimulation.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Brain Mapping
  • Chronic Disease
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Electromyography
  • Evoked Potentials, Motor
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Cortex / diagnostic imaging
  • Motor Cortex / physiopathology*
  • Neural Pathways / diagnostic imaging
  • Neural Pathways / physiopathology
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Rest
  • Signal Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Stroke / diagnostic imaging
  • Stroke / physiopathology*
  • Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation