frontiers in Human Neuroscience

A Single Session of Anodal Cerebellar Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation Does Not Induce Facilitation of Locomotor Consolidation in Patients With Multiple Sclerosis

Carine Nguemeni, György A. Homola, Luis Nakchbandi, Mirko Pham, Jens Volkmann, Daniel Zeller

Department of Neurology, University Hospital of Würzburg


multiple sclerosis, cerebellar tDCS, split-belt treadmill, locomotor adaptation, consolidation


Background: Multiple sclerosis (MS) may cause variable functional impairment. The discrepancy between functional impairment and brain imaging findings in patients with MS (PwMS) might be attributed to differential adaptive and consolidation capacities. Modulating those abilities could contribute to a favorable clinical course of the disease. Objectives: We examined the effect of cerebellar transcranial direct current stimulation (c-tDCS) on locomotor adaptation and consolidation in PwMS using a split-belt treadmill (SBT) paradigm. Methods: 40 PwMS and 30 matched healthy controls performed a locomotor adaptation task on a SBT. First, we assessed locomotor adaptation in PwMS. In a second investigation, this training was followed by cerebellar anodal tDCS applied immediately after the task ipsilateral to the fast leg (T0). The SBT paradigm was repeated 24 h (T1) and 78 h (T2) post-stimulation to evaluate consolidation. Results: The gait dynamics and adaptation on the SBT were comparable between PwMS and controls. We found no effects of offline cerebellar anodal tDCS on locomotor adaptation and consolidation. Participants who received the active stimulation showed the same retention index than sham-stimulated subjects at T1 (p = 0.33) and T2 (p = 0.46). Conclusion: Locomotor adaptation is preserved in people with mild-to-moderate MS. However, cerebellar anodal tDCS applied immediately post-training does not further enhance this ability. Future studies should define the neurobiological substrates of maintained plasticity in PwMS and how these substrates can be manipulated to improve compensation. Systematic assessments of methodological variables for cerebellar tDCS are urgently needed to increase the consistency and replicability of the results across experiments in various settings.

Moticon's Summary

This study investigated the effect of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) on locomotor adaptation as well as consolidation following a gait adaptation protocol on a split-belt treadmill in patients with multiple sclerosis. The sample consisted of 40 patients with multiple sclerosis and 30 healthy controls. The tDCS was administered right after an initial training session. Subsequently two further training sessions were conducted after 24h and 72h of rest respectively to assess motor learning and consolidation. Here Moticon sensor insoles were used to collect gait parameters during the different sessions. Results revealed that motor adaptations resulting from the gait adaptation protocol were preserved in patients with mild to moderate multiple sclerosis. However this affect was not further enhanced by administering tDCS immediately after training.

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