Anodal transcranial patterned stimulation of the motor cortex during gait can induce activity-dependent corticospinal plasticity to alter human gait

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The corticospinal system and local spinal circuits control human bipedal locomotion. The primary motor cortex is phase-dependently activated during gait; this cortical input is critical for foot flexor activity during the swing phase. We investigated whether gait-combined rhythmic brain stimulation can induce neuroplasticity in the foot area of the motor cortex and alter gait parameters. Twenty-one healthy subjects participated in the single-blinded, cross-over study. Each subject received anodal transcranial patterned direct current stimulation over the foot area of the right motor cortex during gait, sham stimulation during gait, and anodal transcranial patterned direct current stimulation during rest in a random order. Six subjects were excluded due to a failure in the experimental recording procedure. Complete-case analysis was performed using the data from the remaining 15 subjects. Self-paced gait speed and left leg stride length were significantly increased after the stimulation during gait, but not after the sham stimulation during gait or the stimulation during rest. In addition, a significant increase was found in the excitability of the corticospinal pathway of the left tibialis anterior muscle 30 min after stimulation during gait. Anodal transcranial patterned direct current stimulation during gait entrained the gait cycle to enhance motor cortical activity in some subjects. These findings suggest that the stimulation during gait induced neuroplasticity in corticospinal pathways driving flexor muscles during gait.



    PLOS ONE 13(12), 2018-12-21

    Public Library of Science (PLoS)


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