Polarity-specific modulation of pain processing by transcranial direct current stimulation – a blinded longitudinal fMRI study


Abstract Background To enrich the hitherto insufficient understanding regarding the mechanisms of action of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) in pain disorders, we investigated its modulating effects on cerebral pain processing using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Methods Thirteen right-handed healthy participants received 20 min of 1.5 mA tDCS applied over the primary motor cortex thrice and under three different stimulation pattern (1.anodal-tDCS, 2.cathodal-tDCS, and 3.sham-tDCS) in a blinded cross-over design. After tDCS neural response to electric trigeminal-nociceptive stimulation was investigated using a block designed fMRI. Results Pain stimulation showed a distinct activation pattern within well-established brain regions associated with pain processing. Following anodal tDCS increased activation was detected in the thalamus, basal ganglia, amygdala, cingulate, precentral, postcentral, and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, while cathodal t-DCS showed decreased response in these areas (pFWE < 0.05). Interestingly the observed effect was reversed in both control conditions (visual- and motor-stimulation). Behavioral data remained unchanged irrespective of the tDCS stimulation mode. Conclusions This study demonstrates polarity-specific modulation of cerebral pain processing, in reconfirmation of previous electrophysiological data. Anodal tDCS leads to an activation of the central pain-network while cathodal tDCS does not. Results contribute to a network-based understanding of tDCS’s impact on cerebral pain-processing

Similar works

Full text


Directory of Open Access Journals

Provided original full text link
oaioai:doaj.org/article:c...Last time updated on 6/4/2019

This paper was published in Directory of Open Access Journals.

Having an issue?

Is data on this page outdated, violates copyrights or anything else? Report the problem now and we will take corresponding actions after reviewing your request.