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Improving motor performance without training: The effect of combining mirror visual feedback with transcranial direct current stimulation

MPS-Authors

von Rein,  Erik
Department Neurology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

Hoff,  Maike
Department Neurology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Kaminski,  Elisabeth
Department Neurology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Sehm,  Bernhard
Department Neurology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Steele,  Christopher
Department Neurology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Villringer,  Arno
Department Neurology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;
Berlin School of Mind and Brain, Humboldt University Berlin, Germany;

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Ragert,  Patrick
Department Neurology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

von Rein, E., Hoff, M., Kaminski, E., Sehm, B., Steele, C., Villringer, A., et al. (2015). Improving motor performance without training: The effect of combining mirror visual feedback with transcranial direct current stimulation. Journal of Neurophysiology, 113(7), 2383-2389. doi:10.1152/jn.00832.2014.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0026-C593-7
Abstract
Mirror visual feedback (MVF) during motor training has been shown to improve motor performance of the untrained hand. Here we thought to determine if MVF-induced performance improvements of the left hand can be augmented by upregulating plasticity in right primary motor cortex (M1) by means of anodal transcranial direct current stimulation (a-tDCS) while subjects trained with the right hand. Participants performed a ball-rotation task with either their left (untrained) or right (trained) hand on two consecutive days (days 1 and 2). During training with the right hand, MVF was provided concurrent with two tDCS conditions: group 1 received a-tDCS over right M1 (n = 10), whereas group 2 received sham tDCS (s-tDCS, n = 10). On day 2, performance was reevaluated under the same experimental conditions compared with day 1 but without tDCS. While baseline performance of the left hand (day 1) was not different between groups, a-tDCS exhibited stronger MVF-induced performance improvements compared with s-tDCS. Similar results were observed for day 2 (without tDCS application). A control experiment (n = 8) with a-tDCS over right M1 as outlined above but without MVF revealed that left hand improvement was significantly less pronounced than that induced by combined a-tDCS and MVF. Based on these results, we provide novel evidence that upregulating activity in the untrained M1 by means of a-tDCS is capable of augmenting MVF-induced performance improvements in young normal volunteers. Our findings suggest that concurrent MVF and tDCS might have synergistic and additive effects on motor performance of the untrained hand, a result of relevance for clinical approaches in neurorehabilitation and/or exercise science.