Journal of Neurology

, Volume 265, Issue 10, pp 2302–2311 | Cite as

Compromised tDCS-induced facilitation of motor consolidation in patients with multiple sclerosis

  • Jost-Julian RumpfEmail author
  • Sophie Dietrich
  • Muriel Stoppe
  • Christopher Fricke
  • David Weise
  • Florian Then Bergh
  • Joseph ClassenEmail author
Original Communication



To investigate whether consolidation after motor learning can be facilitated by offline (post-training) transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS).


In this cross-sectional double-blind interventional study, effects of tDCS on motor consolidation were examined in 14 patients with relapsing remitting MS [median Expanded Disability Status Scale score 2.0 (range 1–4)] and 14 age- and sex-matched healthy controls. tDCS with the anode placed over the left primary motor cortex and the cathode placed over the right supraorbital region was applied immediately after a training session of an explicit sequential finger-tapping task that was performed with the right (dominant) hand. Task performance was retested after an interval of 8 h to assess consolidation. Participants took part in two experimental sessions separated by at least 7 days which differed with respect to type of post-training tDCS, i.e., sham and verum stimulation.


Patients with MS performed worse than controls in functional motor tests and the motor sequence task. However, learning speed and magnitude of online performance increments during the training session were comparable to controls. While post-training tDCS facilitated motor consolidation in controls, patients with MS did not benefit from this type of intervention.


Absence of post-training tDCS-induced facilitation of consolidation in patients with MS suggests that the interaction of tDCS with the motor consolidation network is inefficient. Identification of the underlying disease-related mechanisms will have important implications for the design of studies aiming to promote motor recovery in MS by non-invasive brain stimulation.


Motor learning Motor consolidation Multiple sclerosis Transcranial direct current stimulation 


Author contributions

J-JR: designed and conceptualized study; analyzed the data; interpreted the data; drafted the manuscript for intellectual content. SD: major role in the acquisition of data; revised the manuscript for intellectual content. MS: designed and conceptualized study; revised the manuscript for intellectual content. CF: analyzed the data; revised the manuscript for intellectual content. DW: revised the manuscript for intellectual content. FTB: revised the manuscript for intellectual content. JC: designed and conceptualized study; revised the manuscript for intellectual content.


No industry, government or institutional funding was received for this research.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

All authors declare no support from any organization for the submitted work, no financial relationships with any organizations that might have an interest in the submitted work, and no other relationships or activities that could appear to have influenced the submitted work.

Ethical standard

Ethics approval was provided by the institutional ethical standards committee on human experimentation at the University of Leipzig (371/14-ek). All participants provided written informed consent before the conduct of any study-related procedures.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of NeurologyUniversity of LeipzigLeipzigGermany

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