Altering effort costs in Parkinson’s disease with noninvasive cortical stimulation

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


In Parkinson’s disease (PD), the human brain is capable of producing motor commands, but appears to require greater than normal subjective effort, particularly for the more-affected side. What is the nature of this subjective effort and can it be altered? We used an isometric task in which patients produced a goal force by engaging both arms, but were free to assign any fraction of that force to each arm. The patients preferred their less-affected arm, but only in some directions. This preference was correlated with lateralization of signaldependent noise: the direction of force for which the brain was less willing to assign effort to an arm was generally the direction for which that arm exhibited greater noise. Therefore, the direction-dependent noise in each arm acted as an implicit cost that discouraged use of that arm. To check for a causal relationship between noise and motor cost, we used bilateral transcranial direct current stimulation of the motor cortex, placing the cathode on the more-affected side and the anode on the less-affected side. This stimulation not only reduced the noise on the more-affected arm, it also increased the willingness of the patients to assign force to that arm. Ina3ddouble-blind study and in a 10 d repeated stimulation study, bilateral stimulation of the two motor cortices with cathode on the more-affected side reduced noise and increased the willingness of the patients to exert effort. This stimulation also improved the clinical motor symptoms of the disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)12287-12302
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number35
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2 2015



  • Motor costs
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Signal-dependent noise
  • TDCS

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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