Effects of tDCS on motor learning and memory formation: A consensus and critical position paper

Ethan R. Buch, Emiliano Santarnecchi, Andrea Antal, Jan Born, Pablo A. Celnik, Joseph Classen, Christian Gerloff, Mark Hallett, Friedhelm C. Hummel, Michael A. Nitsche, Alvaro Pascual-Leone, Walter J. Paulus, Janine Reis, Edwin M. Robertson, John C. Rothwell, Marco Sandrini, Heidi M. Schambra, Eric M. Wassermann, Ulf Ziemann, Leonardo G. Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

Motor skills are required for activities of daily living. Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) applied in association with motor skill learning has been investigated as a tool for enhancing training effects in health and disease. Here, we review the published literature investigating whether tDCS can facilitate the acquisition, retention or adaptation of motor skills. Work in multiple laboratories is underway to develop a mechanistic understanding of tDCS effects on different forms of learning and to optimize stimulation protocols. Efforts are required to improve reproducibility and standardization. Overall, reproducibility remains to be fully tested, effect sizes with present techniques vary over a wide range, and the basis of observed inter-individual variability in tDCS effects is incompletely understood. It is recommended that future studies explicitly state in the Methods the exploratory (hypothesis-generating) or hypothesis-driven (confirmatory) nature of the experimental designs. General research practices could be improved with prospective pre-registration of hypothesis-based investigations, more emphasis on the detailed description of methods (including all pertinent details to enable future modeling of induced current and experimental replication), and use of post-publication open data repositories. A checklist is proposed for reporting tDCS investigations in a way that can improve efforts to assess reproducibility.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)589-603
Number of pages15
JournalClinical Neurophysiology
Volume128
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2017

Keywords

  • Effect-size
  • Guidelines
  • Learning
  • Memory
  • Motor
  • Non-invasive brain stimulation
  • Open Science
  • tDCS

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sensory Systems
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Physiology (medical)

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