Effects of High-Definition Transcranial Direct-Current Stimulation on Resting-State Functional Connectivity in Patients With Disorders of Consciousness

Front Hum Neurosci. 2020 Sep 23:14:560586. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2020.560586. eCollection 2020.


Recently a positive treatment effect on disorders of consciousness (DOCs) with high-definition transcranial direct-current stimulation (HD-tDCS) has been reported; however, the neural modulation mechanisms of this treatment's efficacy need further investigation. To better understand the processing of HD-tDCS interventions, a long-lasting HD-tDCS protocol was applied to 15 unresponsive wakefulness syndrome (UWS) patients and 20 minimally conscious states (MCS) patients in this study. Ten minutes of resting-state electroencephalograms (EEGs) were recorded from the patients, and the coma recovery scale-revised scores (CRS-Rs) were assessed for each patient from four time-points (T0, T1, T2, and T3). Brain networks were constructed by calculating the EEG spectral connectivity using the debiased weighted phase lag index (dwPLI) and then quantified the network information transmission efficiency by graph theory. We found that there was an increasing trend in local and global information processing of beta and gamma bands in resting-state functional brain networks during the 14 days of HD-tDCS modulation for MCS patients. Furthermore, the increased functional connectivity not only occurred in the local brain area surrounding the stimulation position but was also present across more global brain areas. Our results suggest that long-lasting HD-tDCS on the precuneus may facilitate information processing among neural populations in MCS patients.

Keywords: coma recovery scale-revised scores; disorders of consciousness; electroencephalography; high-definition transcranial direct-current stimulation; resting-state brain network.