Nav: Home

Brain stimulation improves dexterity

October 27, 2008

Applying electrical stimulation to the scalp and the underlying motor regions of the brain could make you more skilled at delicate tasks. Research published today in the open access journal BMC Neuroscience shows that a non-invasive brain-stimulation technique, transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), is able to improve the use of a person's non-dominant hand.

Drs. Gottfried Schlaug and Bradley Vines from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School, tested the effects of using tDCS over one side or both sides of the brain on sixteen healthy, right-handed volunteers, as well as testing the effect of simply pretending to carry out the procedure. The volunteers were not aware of which of the three procedures they were receiving. The test involved using the fingers of the left hand to key in a series of numbers displayed on a computer screen.

The results were striking; stimulating the brain over both the right and left motor regions ('dual hemisphere' tDCS) resulted in a 24% improvement in the subjects' scores. This was significantly better than stimulating the brain only over one motor region or using the sham treatment (16% and 12% improvements, respectively).

tDCS involves attaching electrodes to the scalp and passing a weak direct current through the scalp and skull to alter the excitability of the underlying brain tissue. The treatment has two principal modes depending on the direction in which the current runs between the two electrodes. Brain tissue that underlies the positive electrode (anode) becomes more excitable and the reverse is true for brain tissue that underlies the negative electrode (cathode). No relevant negative side effects have been reported with this type of non-invasive brain stimulation. It is not to be confused with electroconvulsive therapy, which uses currents around a thousand times higher.

According to Schlaug, "The results of our study are relevant to clinical research on motor recovery after stroke. They point to the possibility that stimulating both sides of the brain simultaneously, using the effects of the direct current to block unwanted effects of one motor region while using the opposite effects of the direct current treatment on the other motor region to enhance and facilitate the function of that motor region might catalyze motor recovery".
-end-
Notes to Editors

1. Dual-hemisphere tDCS facilitates greater improvements for healthy subjects' non-dominant hand compared to uni-hemisphere stimulation
Bradley W Vines, Carlo Cerruti and Gottfried Schlaug
BMC Neuroscience (in press)

During embargo, article available here: http://www.biomedcentral.com/imedia/2077086942030247_article.pdf?random=640003
After the embargo, article available at journal website: http://www.biomedcentral.com/bmcneurosci/

Please name the journal in any story you write. If you are writing for the web, please link to the article. All articles are available free of charge, according to BioMed Central's open access policy.

Article citation and URL available on request at press@biomedcentral.com on the day of publication.

2. BMC Neuroscience is an open access journal publishing original peer-reviewed research articles in all aspects of cellular, tissue-level, organismal, functional and developmental aspects of the nervous system. BMC Neuroscience (ISSN 1471-2202) is indexed/tracked/covered by PubMed, MEDLINE, BIOSIS, CAS, Scopus, EMBASE, Thomson Reuters (ISI) and Google Scholar. BMC Neuroscience has an Impact Factor of 2.99.

3. BioMed Central (http://www.biomedcentral.com/) is an STM (Science, Technology and Medicine) publisher which has pioneered the open access publishing model. All peer-reviewed research articles published by BioMed Central are made immediately and freely accessible online, and are licensed to allow redistribution and reuse. BioMed Central is part of Springer Science+Business Media, a leading global publisher in the STM sector.

BioMed Central

Related Brain Articles:

Unique insight into development of the human brain: Model of the early embryonic brain
Stem cell researchers from the University of Copenhagen have designed a model of an early embryonic brain.
An optical brain-to-brain interface supports information exchange for locomotion control
Chinese researchers established an optical BtBI that supports rapid information transmission for precise locomotion control, thus providing a proof-of-principle demonstration of fast BtBI for real-time behavioral control.
Transplanting human nerve cells into a mouse brain reveals how they wire into brain circuits
A team of researchers led by Pierre Vanderhaeghen and Vincent Bonin (VIB-KU Leuven, Université libre de Bruxelles and NERF) showed how human nerve cells can develop at their own pace, and form highly precise connections with the surrounding mouse brain cells.
Brain scans reveal how the human brain compensates when one hemisphere is removed
Researchers studying six adults who had one of their brain hemispheres removed during childhood to reduce epileptic seizures found that the remaining half of the brain formed unusually strong connections between different functional brain networks, which potentially help the body to function as if the brain were intact.
Alcohol byproduct contributes to brain chemistry changes in specific brain regions
Study of mouse models provides clear implications for new targets to treat alcohol use disorder and fetal alcohol syndrome.
Scientists predict the areas of the brain to stimulate transitions between different brain states
Using a computer model of the brain, Gustavo Deco, director of the Center for Brain and Cognition, and Josephine Cruzat, a member of his team, together with a group of international collaborators, have developed an innovative method published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Sept.
BRAIN Initiative tool may transform how scientists study brain structure and function
Researchers have developed a high-tech support system that can keep a large mammalian brain from rapidly decomposing in the hours after death, enabling study of certain molecular and cellular functions.
Wiring diagram of the brain provides a clearer picture of brain scan data
In a study published today in the journal BRAIN, neuroscientists led by Michael D.
Blue Brain Project releases first-ever digital 3D brain cell atlas
The Blue Brain Cell Atlas is like ''going from hand-drawn maps to Google Earth'' -- providing previously unavailable information on major cell types, numbers and positions in all 737 brain regions.
Landmark study reveals no benefit to costly and risky brain cooling after brain injury
A landmark study, led by Monash University researchers, has definitively found that the practice of cooling the body and brain in patients who have recently received a severe traumatic brain injury, has no impact on the patient's long-term outcome.
More Brain News and Brain Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: Meditations on Loneliness
Original broadcast date: April 24, 2020. We're a social species now living in isolation. But loneliness was a problem well before this era of social distancing. This hour, TED speakers explore how we can live and make peace with loneliness. Guests on the show include author and illustrator Jonny Sun, psychologist Susan Pinker, architect Grace Kim, and writer Suleika Jaouad.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#565 The Great Wide Indoors
We're all spending a bit more time indoors this summer than we probably figured. But did you ever stop to think about why the places we live and work as designed the way they are? And how they could be designed better? We're talking with Emily Anthes about her new book "The Great Indoors: The Surprising Science of how Buildings Shape our Behavior, Health and Happiness".
Now Playing: Radiolab

The Third. A TED Talk.
Jad gives a TED talk about his life as a journalist and how Radiolab has evolved over the years. Here's how TED described it:How do you end a story? Host of Radiolab Jad Abumrad tells how his search for an answer led him home to the mountains of Tennessee, where he met an unexpected teacher: Dolly Parton.Jad Nicholas Abumrad is a Lebanese-American radio host, composer and producer. He is the founder of the syndicated public radio program Radiolab, which is broadcast on over 600 radio stations nationwide and is downloaded more than 120 million times a year as a podcast. He also created More Perfect, a podcast that tells the stories behind the Supreme Court's most famous decisions. And most recently, Dolly Parton's America, a nine-episode podcast exploring the life and times of the iconic country music star. Abumrad has received three Peabody Awards and was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2011.