Anodal transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) has been shown to be an effective non-invasive brain stimulation method for improving cognitive and motor functioning in patients with neurological deficits. tDCS over motor cortex (M1), for instance, facilitates motor learning in stroke patients. However, the literature on anodal tDCS effects on motor learning in healthy participants is inconclusive, and the effects of tDCS on visuo-motor integration are not well understood. In the present study we examined whether tDCS over the contralateral motor cortex enhances learning of grip-force output in a visually guided feedback task in young and neurologically healthy volunteers. Twenty minutes of 1 mA anodal tDCS were applied over the primary motor cortex (M1) contralateral to the dominant (right) hand, during the first half of a 40 min power-grip task. This task required the control of a visual signal by modulating the strength of the power-grip for six seconds per trial. Each participant completed a two-session sham-controlled crossover protocol. The stimulation conditions were counterbalanced across participants and the sessions were one week apart. Performance measures comprised time-on-target and target-deviation, and were calculated for the periods of stimulation (or sham) and during the afterphase respectively. Statistical analyses revealed significant performance improvements over the stimulation and the afterphase, but this learning effect was not modulated by tDCS condition. This suggests that the form of visuomotor learning taking place in the present task was not sensitive to neurostimulation. These null effects, together with similar reports for other types of motor tasks, lead to the proposition that tDCS facilitation of motor learning might be restricted to cases or situations where the motor system is challenged, such as motor deficits, advanced age, or very high task demand.
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