Anodal transcranial direct current stimulation of the motor cortex increases cortical voluntary activation and neural plasticity

Ashlyn Frazer, Jacqueline Williams, Michael Spittles, Timo Rantalainen, Dawson Kidgell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: We examined the cumulative effect of 4 consecutive bouts of noninvasive brain stimulation on corticospinal plasticity and motor performance, and whether these responses were influenced by the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) polymorphism. Methods: In a randomized double-blinded cross-over design, changes in strength and indices of corticospinal plasticity were analyzed in 14 adults who were exposed to 4 consecutive sessions of anodal and sham transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS). Participants also undertook a blood sample for BDNF genotyping (N = 13). Results: We observed a significant increase in isometric wrist flexor strength with transcranial magnetic stimulation revealing increased corticospinal excitability, decreased silent period duration, and increased cortical voluntary activation compared with sham tDCS. Conclusions: The results show that 4 consecutive sessions of anodal tDCS increased cortical voluntary activation manifested as an improvement in strength. Induction of corticospinal plasticity appears to be influenced by the BDNF polymorphism. Muscle Nerve 54: 903–913, 2016.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)903-913
Number of pages11
JournalMuscle & Nerve
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • BDNF polymorphism
  • cortical voluntary activation
  • motor performance
  • neural plasticity
  • strength
  • transcranial direct current stimulation

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