The effects of anodal-tDCS on cross-limb transfer in older adults

Alicia M. Goodwill, Robin M. Daly, Dawson J. Kidgell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: Age-related neurodegeneration may interfere with the ability to respond to cross-limb transfer, whereby bilateral performance improvements accompany unilateral practice. We investigated whether transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) would facilitate this phenomena in older adults. Methods: 12 young and 12 older adults underwent unilateral visuomotor tracking (VT), with anodal or sham-tDCS over the ipsilateral motor cortex. Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) assessed motor evoked potentials (MEPs) and short interval intracortical inhibition (SICI). Performance was quantified through a VT error. Variables were assessed bilaterally at baseline and post-intervention. Results: The trained limb improved performance, facilitated MEPs and released SICI in both age groups. In the untrained limb, VT improved in young for both sham and anodal-tDCS conditions, but only following anodal-tDCS for the older adults. MEPs increased in all conditions, except the older adult's receiving sham. SICI was released in both tDCS conditions for young and old. Conclusion: Following a VT task, older adults still display use-dependent plasticity. Although no significant age-related differences between the outcome measures, older adults exhibited significant cross-limb transfer of performance following anodal-tDCS, which was otherwise absent following motor practice alone. Significance: These findings provide clinical implications for conditions restricting the use of one limb, such as stroke.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2189-2197
Number of pages9
JournalClinical Neurophysiology
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Cortical plasticity
  • Cross-limb transfer
  • Intracortical inhibition
  • Ipsilateral motor cortex
  • Motor practice
  • tDCS

Cite this