Differential behavioral and physiological effects of anodal transcranial direct current stimulation in healthy adults of younger and older age
Heise, Kirstin × Niehoff, Martina Feldheim, J-F Liuzzi, Gianpiero Gerloff, Christian Hummel, Friedhelm C #
Frontiers Research Foundation
Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience vol:6 pages:146
Changes in γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) mediated synaptic transmission have been associated with age-related motor and cognitive functional decline. Since anodal transcranial direct current stimulation (atDCS) has been suggested to target cortical GABAergic inhibitory interneurons, its potential for the treatment of deficient inhibitory activity and functional decline is being increasingly discussed. Therefore, after-effects of a single session of atDCS on resting-state and event-related short-interval intracortical inhibition (SICI) as evaluated with double-pulse TMS and dexterous manual performance were examined using a sham-controlled cross-over design in a sample of older and younger participants. The atDCS effect on resting-state inhibition differed in direction, magnitude, and timing, i.e., late relative release of inhibition in the younger and early relative increase in inhibition in the older. More pronounced release of event-related inhibition after atDCS was exclusively seen in the older. Event-related modulation of inhibition prior to stimulation predicted the magnitude of atDCS-induced effects on resting-state inhibition. Specifically, older participants with high modulatory capacity showed a disinhibitory effect comparable to the younger. Beneficial effects on behavior were mainly seen in the older and in tasks requiring higher dexterity, no clear association with physiological changes was found. Differential effects of atDCS on SICI, discussed to reflect GABAergic inhibition at the level of the primary motor cortex, might be distinct in older and younger participants depending on the functional integrity of the underlying neural network. Older participants with preserved modulatory capacity, i.e., a physiologically "young" motor network, were more likely to show a disinhibitory effect of atDCS. These results favor individually tailored application of tDCS with respect to specific target groups.