Poststimulation time interval-dependent effects of motor cortex anodal tDCS on reaction-time task performance

Authors: Molero-Chamizo A. et al.

Anodal transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) induces long-term potentiation-like plasticity, which is associated with long-lasting effects on different cognitive, emotional, and motor performances. Specifically, tDCS applied over the motor cortex is considered to improve reaction time in simple and complex tasks. The timing of tDCS relative to task performance could determine the efficacy of tDCS to modulate performance. The aim of this study was to compare the effects of a single session of anodal tDCS (1.5 mA, for 15 min) applied over the left primary motor cortex (M1) versus sham stimulation on performance of a go/no-go simple reaction-time task carried out at three different time points after tDCS-namely, 0, 30, or 60 min after stimulation. Performance zero min after anodal tDCS was improved during the whole course of the task. Performance 30 min after anodal tDCS was improved only in the last block of the reaction-time task. Performance 60 min after anodal tDCS was not significantly different throughout the entire task. These findings suggest that the motor cortex excitability changes induced by tDCS can improve motor responses, and these effects critically depend on the time interval between stimulation and task performance.

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