High-Frequency TRNS Reduces BOLD Activity during Visuomotor Learning

Catarina Saiote, Rafael Polanía, Konstantin Rosenberger, Walter Paulus, Andrea Antal

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35 Scopus citations


Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) and transcranial random noise stimulation (tRNS) consist in the application of electrical current of small intensity through the scalp, able to modulate perceptual and motor learning, probably by changing brain excitability. We investigated the effects of these transcranial electrical stimulation techniques in the early and later stages of visuomotor learning, as well as associated brain activity changes using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). We applied anodal and cathodal tDCS, low-frequency and high-frequency tRNS (lf-tRNS, 0.1-100 Hz; hf-tRNS 101-640 Hz, respectively) and sham stimulation over the primary motor cortex (M1) during the first 10 minutes of a visuomotor learning paradigm and measured performance changes for 20 minutes after stimulation ceased. Functional imaging scans were acquired throughout the whole experiment. Cathodal tDCS and hf-tRNS showed a tendency to improve and lf-tRNS to hinder early learning during stimulation, an effect that remained for 20 minutes after cessation of stimulation in the late learning phase. Motor learning-related activity decreased in several regions as reported previously, however, there was no significant modulation of brain activity by tDCS. In opposition to this, hf-tRNS was associated with reduced motor task-related-activity bilaterally in the frontal cortex and precuneous, probably due to interaction with ongoing neuronal oscillations. This result highlights the potential of lf-tRNS and hf-tRNS to differentially modulate visuomotor learning and advances our knowledge on neuroplasticity induction approaches combined with functional imaging methods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere59669
JournalPloS one
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 20 2013


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