Differential Modulation of Corticospinal Excitability by Different Current Densities of Anodal Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation

Andisheh Bastani, Shapour Jaberzadeh

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61 Citations (Scopus)


Background:Novel non-invasive brain stimulation techniques such as transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) have been developed in recent years. TDCS-induced corticospinal excitability changes depend on two important factors current intensity and stimulation duration. Despite clinical success with existing tDCS parameters, optimal protocols are still not entirely set.Objective/hypothesis:The current study aimed to investigate the effects of four different anodal tDCS (a-tDCS) current densities on corticospinal excitability.Methods:Four current intensities of 0.3, 0.7, 1.4 and 2 mA resulting in current densities (CDs) of 0.013, 0.029, 0.058 and 0.083 mA/cm2 were applied on twelve right-handed (mean age 34.5±10.32 yrs) healthy individuals in different sessions at least 48 hours apart. a-tDCS was applied continuously for 10 minute, with constant active and reference electrode sizes of 24 and 35 cm2 respectively. The corticospinal excitability of the extensor carpi radialis muscle (ECR) was measured before and immediately after the intervention and at 10, 20 and 30 minutes thereafter.Results:Post hoc comparisons showed significant differences in corticospinal excitability changes for CDs of 0.013 mA/cm2 and 0.029 mA/cm2 (P = 0.003). There were no significant differences between excitability changes for the 0.013 mA/cm2 and 0.058 mA/cm2 (P = 0.080) or 0.013 mA/cm2 and 0.083 mA/cm2 (P = 0.484) conditions.Conclusion:This study found that a-tDCS with a current density of 0.013 mA/cm2 induces significantly larger corticospinal excitability changes than CDs of 0.029 mA/cm2. The implication is that might help to avoid applying unwanted amount of current to the cortical areas.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere72254
Number of pages8
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 22 Aug 2013


  • functional electrical stimulation
  • transcranial direct-current stimulation
  • gamma-aminobutyric acid
  • transcranial magnetic stimulation
  • analysis of variance
  • anodes
  • muscle analysis
  • electrode potentials

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