Is it true that neurostimulation helps your neurons make connections?
Neuroplasticity, also known as brain plasticity, is the ability of the brain to be adapted to any change in its surrounding throughout its life. From the time we are born until the day we die, the cells in our brain keep reorganizing according to our needs of change. Neuroplasticity is constantly at work throughout our lives. The connections within our brain are either becoming stronger or weaker. Younger people’s brains change more easily, because their brains are very plastic. Aged people lose their brain plasticity and become more firm and fixed in their thinking, learning and perceiving. In clinical context, the term neuroplasticity determines how quickly a patient recovers after a brain injury i.e. to regain independence to perform daily life activities (self-care, dressing, personal hygiene etc.)
It has been recognized that not all psychiatric and neurological behavioural indicators are solely because of abnormality, but because of alteration in the functionality of the brain regions. In this context, brain region becomes an important target of neuromodulatory interventions such as transcranial direct current stimulation. The advancement in neuroimaging techniques have made ways for us to non-invasively visualize different regions of the brain. tDCS has been used to improve various areas of cognitive functions. Some of them are briefly described ahead.
tDCS to improve learning and boost memory:
tDCS has been proven to be potentially beneficial in improving memory and learning in people with atypical brain development. With the help of several researcher’s work, it was proposed that tDCS when used on the right inferior frontal and right parietal cortex improved memory conditions. tDCS has also been reportedly said to improve language performance and word retrieval in people with language impairment.
tDCS to enhance motor skills:
In a randomized study, it was observed that tDCS could enhance motor skills in patients with chronic stroke. The transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) was positioned over the motor cortex (M1) (through anode) and contralesional forehead (through cathode) challenging fine motor skill task. The results showed significant increase in motor skills relative to any other treatment.
tDCS to treat Chronic Pain:
Different experimental research work done on patients with fibromyalgia and phantom limb pain suggested that tDCS had the capacity to upregulate and downregulate the functional connectivity of brain regions that are associated with motor, cognitive and pain processing. Patients with phantom limb pain were given anodal tDCS (applied over motor cortex) for over 5 consecutive days and they reported reduction in their pain.
tDCS to enhance athleticism:
A “Cycling Time to Task Failure Test” was conducted among several athletes in which it was revealed that participants who received anodal stimulation biked longer than those who received sham or cathodal stimulations. The researchers suggested that the better performance could be due to higher excitability of motor cortex leading to a decrement in effort and increment in endurance of the athletes.
tDCS to treat Alzheimer and other diseases:
It was reported that tDCS used on temporal cortex and left DLPFC enhanced VRM (Visual Recognition Memory) in patients with Alzheimer Disease. In different research work, it was noticed that tDCS also proved great in enhancing overall memory conditions of Alzheimer patients when applied bilaterally over the temporal regions through anodal electrodes on the scalp.
A brain network perspective on tDCS induced neuroplasticity: Single versus dual or multiple sites stimulation. (2017, march). Retrieved from science direct: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1388245716306897
AND MOTOR LEARNING BY BRAIN. (2016, feb). Retrieved from https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/536d/5ef2ae380aab59630ceeda72c54de0751ac8.pdf
Induction of Neuroplasticity by Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation. (2016, dec 1). Retrieved from NCBI: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5219570/
WHAT IS NEUROPLASTICITY? (n.d.). Retrieved from brain works neurotherapy: https://brainworksneurotherapy.com/what-neuroplasticity