Anodal tDCS modulates cortical activity and synchronization in Parkinson's disease depending on motor processing.
BACKGROUND: Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) may alleviate motor symptoms in Parkinson's disease (PD). However, the neurophysiological effects of tDCS on cortical activation, synchronization, and the relation to clinical motor symptoms and motor integration need characterization. OBJECTIVE: We aimed to explore the effect of tDCS over the left sensorimotor area on clinical motor outcome, right hand fine motor performance as well as cortical activity and synchronization in the high beta range. METHODS: In this double-blind randomized sham-controlled clinico-neurophysiological study we investigated ten idiopathic PD patients and eleven matched healthy controls (HC) on two days during an isometric precision grip task and at rest before and after 'verum' and 'sham' anodal tDCS (20min; 1mA; anode [C3], cathode [Fp2]). We measured clinical outcome, fine motor performance, and analysed both cortical frequency domain activity and corticocortical imaginary coherence. RESULTS: tDCS improved PD motor symptoms. Neurophysiological features indicated a motor-task-specific modulation of activity and coherence from 22 to 27Hz after 'verum' stimulation in PD. Activity was significantly reduced over the left sensorimotor and right frontotemporal area. Before stimulation, PD patients showed reduced coherence over the left sensorimotor area during motor task compared to HC, and this increased after 'verum' stimulation in the motor task. The activity and synchronization modulation were neither observed at rest, after sham stimulation nor in healthy controls. CONCLUSION: Verum tDCS modulated the PD cortical network specifically during fine motor integration. Cortical oscillatory features were not in general deregulated in PD, but depended on motor processing.