Transcranial direct current stimulation generates a transient increase of small-world in brain connectivity: an EEG graph theoretical analysis
Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is a non-invasive technique able to modulate cortical excitability in a polarity-dependent way. At present, only few studies investigated the effects of tDCS on the modulation of functional connectivity between remote cortical areas. The aim of this study was to investigate—through graph theory analysis—how bipolar tDCS modulate cortical networks high-density EEG recordings were acquired before and after bipolar cathodal, anodal and sham tDCS involving the primary motor and pre-motor cortices of the dominant hemispherein 14 healthy subjects. Results showed that, after bipolar anodal tDCS stimulation, brain networks presented a less evident “small world” organization with a global tendency to be more random in its functional connections with respect to prestimulus condition in both hemispheres. Results suggest that tDCS globally modulates the cortical connectivity of the brain, modifying the underlying functional organization of the stimulated networks, which might be related to changes in synaptic efficiency of the motor network and related brain areas. This study demonstrated that graph analysis approach to EEG recordings is able to intercept changes in cortical functions mediated by bipolar anodal tDCS mainly involving the dominant M1 and related motor areas. Concluding, tDCS could be an useful technique to help understanding brain rhythms and their topographic functional organization and specificity.
KeywordsEEG Brain networks Graph analysis Smallworld tDCS
Authors thank Drs Florinda Ferreri and Andrea Guerra for their support. Project’s founders :Italian Ministry of Health for Institutional Research (Ricerca corrente) and Young Researchers, Project GR-2011-02349998.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare no competing financial interests.
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