Simultaneous Stimulation Using rTMS and tDCS Produces the Most Effective Modulation of Motor Cortical Excitability in Healthy Subjects: A Pilot Study
Neuroscience Letters. 694:46-50, 2019 02 16.
Wang H; Wang X; Jin J; Zhang W; Li Y; Liu Z; Yin T.
Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) and transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) can be used to modulate the excitability of the cortex, but instances of the two technologies being used to stimulate two positions of the human brain simultaneously are rare. As an initial investigation into the efficacy, feasibility and safety of such an approach, we compared the effects of simultaneously applying rTMS and cathodal tDCS with that of four other stimulation regimens (cathodal tDCS alone, rTMS alone, rTMS after cathodal tDCS, and sham stimulation) on a single population of subjects consisting of five healthy volunteers. Additionally, we also conducted SimNibs simulations of the electric field patterns that combined rTMS and cathodal tDCS would produce in cerebral cortices of the subjects. Compared with baseline levels, motor evoked potentials (MEPs; used here as a surrogate measure of cortical excitability) were significantly increased with all four ‘real’ stimulation methods (p < 0.05). Compared with sham measurements, significant increases in MEPs were also observed with rTMS alone (p = 0.0021), rTMS after tDCS (p = 0.0004), simultaneous rTMS and tDCS (p < 0.0001), but not with tDCS alone (p = 0.4182). We also determined that simultaneous rTMS and cathodal tDCS induced a significant increase in MEPs compared with the baseline or sham at all-time points, and resulted in the largest significant increase in MEPs. Our simulations show that applying cathodal tDCS at the standard stimulation position would cause only a 5.8% increase in the strength of the electric field produced by rTMS when the two techniques are used in conjunction. Our findings in this study indicate that combining rTMS with cathodal tDCS is not only safe, but highly-effective as well.