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Preliminary evidence that anodal transcranial direct current stimulation enhances time to task failure of a sustained submaximal contraction.

Williams, Petra S. and Hoffman, Richard L. and Clark, Brian C. (2013) Preliminary evidence that anodal transcranial direct current stimulation enhances time to task failure of a sustained submaximal contraction. PLoS ONE, 8 (12). e81418. ISSN 1932-6203

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Publisher’s or external URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0081418

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to determine whether anodal transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) delivered while performing a sustained submaximal contraction would increase time to task failure (TTF) compared to sham stimulation. Healthy volunteers (n = 18) performed two fatiguing contractions at 20% of maximum strength with the elbow flexors on separate occasions. During fatigue task performance, either anodal or sham stimulation was delivered to the motor cortex for up to 20 minutes. Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) was used to assess changes in cortical excitability during stimulation. There was no systematic effect of the anodal tDCS stimulation on TTF for the entire subject set (n = 18; p = 0.64). Accordingly, a posteriori subjects were divided into two tDCS-time groups: Full-Time (n = 8), where TTF occurred prior to the termination of tDCS, and Part-Time (n = 10), where TTF extended after tDCS terminated. The TTF for the Full-Time group was 31% longer with anodal tDCS compared to sham (p = 0.04), whereas TTF for the Part-Time group did not differ (p = 0.81). Therefore, the remainder of our analysis addressed the Full-Time group. With anodal tDCS, the amount of muscle fatigue was 6% greater at task failure (p = 0.05) and the amount of time the Full-Time group performed the task at an RPE between 8–10 (“very hard”) increased by 38% (p = 0.04) compared to sham. There was no difference in measures of cortical excitability between stimulation conditions (p = 0.90). That the targeted delivery of anodal tDCS during task performance both increased TTF and the amount of muscle fatigue in a subset of subjects suggests that augmenting cortical excitability with tDCS enhanced descending drive to the spinal motorpool to recruit more motor units. The results also suggest that the application of tDCS during performance of fatiguing activity has the potential to bolster the capacity to exercise under conditions required to derive benefits due to overload.

Item Type: Article
ID number or DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0081418
Keywords: Adult; biceps-brachii; BRAIN stimulation; cortical excitability; Evoked Potentials, Motor; EXERCISE intensity; Female; human motor cortex; human muscle fatigue; Humans; induced plasticity; Isometric Contraction; magnetic stimulation; Male; maximal voluntary contractions; MOTOR cortex; MOTOR unit; MUSCLE contraction; MUSCLE fatigue; noninvasive brain-stimulation; Psychomotor Performance; Research Article; supraspinal factors; TASK performance; TRANSCRANIAL magnetic stimulation; Young Adult
Subjects: R Medicine > RC Internal medicine
NAU Depositing Author Academic Status: Faculty/Staff
Department/Unit: College of Health and Human Services > Physical Therapy and Athletic Training
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2015 17:24
URI: http://openknowledge.nau.edu/id/eprint/1690

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