Recovery of handgrip is critical after stroke since it is positively related to upper limb function. To boost motor recovery, transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is a promising, non-invasive brain stimulation technique for the rehabilitation of persons with stroke. When applied over the primary motor cortex (M1), tDCS has been shown to modulate neural processes involved in motor learning. However, no studies have looked at the impact of tDCS on the learning of a grip task in both stroke and healthy individuals.
To assess the use of tDCS over multiple days to promote motor learning of a grip task using a learning paradigm involving a speed-accuracy tradeoff in healthy individuals.
In a double-blinded experiment, 30 right-handed subjects (mean age: 22.1±3.3 years) participated in the study and were randomly assigned to an anodal (n=15) or sham (n=15) stimulation group. First, subjects performed the grip task with their dominant hand while following the pace of a metronome. Afterwards, subjects trained on the task, at their own pace, over 5 consecutive days while receiving sham or anodal tDCS over M1. After training, subjects performed de novo the metronome-assisted task. The change in performance between the pre and post metronome-assisted task was used to assess the impact of the grip task and tDCS on learning.
Anodal tDCS over M1 had a significant effect on the speed-accuracy tradeoff function. The anodal tDCS group showed significantly greater improvement in performance (39.28±15.92%) than the sham tDCS group (24.06±16.35%) on the metronome-assisted task, t(28)=2.583, P=0.015 (effect size d=0.94).
Anodal tDCS is effective in promoting grip motor learning in healthy individuals. Further studies are warranted to test its potential use for the rehabilitation of fine motor skills in stroke patients.Le texte complet de cet article est disponible en PDF.
Keywords : Motor performance, Neurostimulation, Primary motor cortex, Grip control, Neurorehabilitation