Background: Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) has emerged as a non-invasive brain stimulation technique. Most studies show that anodal tDCS increases cortical excitability. However, this effect has been found to be highly variable. Objective: To test the effect of anodal tDCS on cortical excitability and the interaction effect of two participant-specific factors that may explain individual differences in sensitivity to anodal tDCS: the Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor Val66Met polymorphism (BDNF genotype) and the latency difference between anterior-posterior and lateromedial TMS pulses (APLM latency). Methods: In 62 healthy participants, cortical excitability over the left motor cortex was measured before and after anodal tDCS at 2 mA for 20 min in a pre-registered, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial with repeated measures. Results: We did not find a main effect of anodal tDCS, nor an interaction effect of the participant-specific predictors. Moreover, further analyses did not provide evidence for the existence of responders and non-responders. Conclusion: This study indicates that anodal tDCS at 2 mA for 20 min may not reliably affect cortical excitability.

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Brain Stimulation
Department of Neuroscience

Jonker, Z.D. (Zeb D.), Gaiser, C. (Carolin), Tulen, J., Ribbers, G., Frens, M., & Selles, R. (2021). No effect of anodal tDCS on motor cortical excitability and no evidence for responders in a large double-blind placebo-controlled trial. Brain Stimulation, 14(1), 100–109. doi:10.1016/j.brs.2020.11.005