Publications by authors named "Virginia Conde"

21 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Two Coarse Spatial Patterns of Altered Brain Microstructure Predict Post-traumatic Amnesia in the Subacute Stage of Severe Traumatic Brain Injury.

Front Neurol 2020 4;11:800. Epub 2020 Sep 4.

Danish Research Centre for Magnetic Resonance (DRCMR), Centre for Functional and Diagnostic Imaging Research, Copenhagen University Hospital Hvidovre, Hvidovre, Denmark.

Diffuse traumatic axonal injury (TAI) is one of the key mechanisms leading to impaired consciousness after severe traumatic brain injury (TBI). In addition, preferential regional expression of TAI in the brain may also influence clinical outcome. We addressed the question whether the regional expression of microstructural changes as revealed by whole-brain diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) in the subacute stage after severe TBI may predict the duration of post-traumatic amnesia (PTA). Fourteen patients underwent whole-brain DTI in the subacute stage after severe TBI. Mean fractional anisotropy (FA) and mean diffusivity (MD) were calculated for five bilateral brain regions: fronto-temporal, parieto-occipital, and midsagittal hemispheric white matter, as well as brainstem and basal ganglia. Region-specific calculation of mean FA and MD only considered voxels that showed no tissue damage, using an exclusive mask with all voxels that belonged to local brain lesions or microbleeds. Mean FA or MD of the five brain regions were entered in separate partial least squares (PLS) regression analyses to identify patterns of regional microstructural changes that account for inter-individual variations in PTA. For FA, PLS analysis revealed two spatial patterns that significantly correlated with individual PTA. The lower the mean FA values in all five brain regions, the longer that PTA lasted. A pattern characterized by lower FA values in the deeper brain regions relative to the FA values in the hemispheric regions also correlated with longer PTA. Similar trends were found for MD, but opposite in sign. The spatial FA changes as revealed by PLS components predicted the duration of PTA. Individual PTA duration, as predicted by a leave-one-out cross-validation analysis, correlated with true PTA values (Spearman = 0.68, = 0.008). Two coarse spatial patterns of microstructural damage, indexed as reduction in FA, were relevant to recovery of consciousness after TBI. One pattern expressed was consistent with diffuse microstructural damage across the entire brain. A second pattern was indicative of a preferential damage of deep midline brain structures.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fneur.2020.00800DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7498982PMC
September 2020

Toward a global and reproducible science for brain imaging in neurotrauma: the ENIGMA adult moderate/severe traumatic brain injury working group.

Brain Imaging Behav 2021 Apr;15(2):526-554

Department of Brain Sciences, Imperial College London, London, UK.

The global burden of mortality and morbidity caused by traumatic brain injury (TBI) is significant, and the heterogeneity of TBI patients and the relatively small sample sizes of most current neuroimaging studies is a major challenge for scientific advances and clinical translation. The ENIGMA (Enhancing NeuroImaging Genetics through Meta-Analysis) Adult moderate/severe TBI (AMS-TBI) working group aims to be a driving force for new discoveries in AMS-TBI by providing researchers world-wide with an effective framework and platform for large-scale cross-border collaboration and data sharing. Based on the principles of transparency, rigor, reproducibility and collaboration, we will facilitate the development and dissemination of multiscale and big data analysis pipelines for harmonized analyses in AMS-TBI using structural and functional neuroimaging in combination with non-imaging biomarkers, genetics, as well as clinical and behavioral measures. Ultimately, we will offer investigators an unprecedented opportunity to test important hypotheses about recovery and morbidity in AMS-TBI by taking advantage of our robust methods for large-scale neuroimaging data analysis. In this consensus statement we outline the working group's short-term, intermediate, and long-term goals.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11682-020-00313-7DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8032647PMC
April 2021

Brain damage by trauma.

Handb Clin Neurol 2020 ;168:39-49

Danish Research Centre for Magnetic Resonance, Copenhagen University Hospital Hvidovre, Copenhagen, Denmark; Department of Neurology, Copenhagen University Hospital Bispebjerg, Copenhagen, Denmark. Electronic address:

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) represents a major clinical and economic challenge for health systems worldwide, and it is considered one of the leading causes of disability in young adults. The recent development of brain-computer interface (BCI) tools to target cognitive and motor impairments has led to the exploration of these techniques as potential therapeutic tools in patients with TBI. However, little evidence has been gathered so far to support applicability and efficacy of BCIs for TBI in a clinical setting. In the present chapter, results from studies using BCI approaches in conscious patients with TBI or in animal models of TBI as well as an overview of future directions in the use of BCIs to treat cognitive symptoms in this patient population will be presented.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-444-63934-9.00005-6DOI Listing
December 2020

Limited Colocalization of Microbleeds and Microstructural Changes after Severe Traumatic Brain Injury.

J Neurotrauma 2020 02 20;37(4):581-592. Epub 2019 Nov 20.

Danish Research Centre for Magnetic Resonance (DRCMR), Centre for Functional and Diagnostic Imaging Research, Copenhagen University Hospital Hvidovre, Hvidovre, Denmark.

Severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) produces shearing forces on long-range axons and brain vessels, causing axonal and vascular injury. To examine whether microbleeds and axonal injury colocalize after TBI, we performed whole-brain susceptibility-weighted imaging (SWI) and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) in 14 patients during the subacute phase after severe TBI. SWI was used to determine the number and volumes of microbleeds in five brain regions: the frontotemporal lobe; parieto-occipital lobe; midsagittal region (cingular cortex, parasagittal white matter, and corpus callosum); deep nuclei (basal ganglia and thalamus); and brainstem. Averaged fractional anisotropy (FA) and mean diffusivity (MD) were measured to assess microstructural changes in the normal appearing white matter attributed to axonal injury in the same five regions. Regional expressions of microbleeds and microstructure were used in a partial least-squares model to predict the impairment of consciousness in the subacute stage after TBI as measured with the Coma Recovery Scale-Revised (CRS-R). Only in the midsagittal region, the expression of microbleeds was correlated with regional changes in microstructure as revealed by DTI. Microbleeds and microstructural DTI-based metrics of deep, but not superficial, brain regions were able to predict individual CRS-R. Our results suggest that microbleeds are not strictly related to axonal pathology in other than the midsagittal region. While each measure alone was predictive, the combination of both metrics scaled best with individual CRS-R. Structural alterations in deep brain structures are relevant in terms of determining the severity of impaired consciousness in the acute stage after TBI.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1089/neu.2019.6608DOI Listing
February 2020

Distilling the essence of TMS-evoked EEG potentials (TEPs): A call for securing mechanistic specificity and experimental rigor.

Brain Stimul 2019 Jul - Aug;12(4):1051-1054. Epub 2019 Apr 2.

Deutsches Resilienz Zentrum (DRZ), Johannes Gutenberg University Medical Center, Mainz, Germany; Department of Neurology & Stroke, and Hertie Institute for Clinical Brain Research, Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen, Tübingen, Germany; Institute for Medical Psychology and Behavioral Neurobiology, Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen, Tübingen, Germany.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.brs.2019.03.076DOI Listing
September 2019

The non-transcranial TMS-evoked potential is an inherent source of ambiguity in TMS-EEG studies.

Neuroimage 2019 01 19;185:300-312. Epub 2018 Oct 19.

Danish Research Centre for Magnetic Resonance, Centre for Functional and Diagnostic Imaging and Research, Copenhagen University Hospital Hvidovre, Denmark; Department of Neurology, Copenhagen University Hospital Bispebjerg, Bispebjerg Bakke 23, 2400 København NV, Denmark. Electronic address:

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) excites populations of neurons in the stimulated cortex, and the resulting activation may spread to connected brain regions. The distributed cortical response can be recorded with electroencephalography (EEG). Since TMS also stimulates peripheral sensory and motor axons and generates a loud "click" sound, the TMS-evoked EEG potentials (TEPs) reflect not only neural activity induced by transcranial neuronal excitation but also neural activity due to somatosensory and auditory processing. In 17 healthy young individuals, we systematically assessed the contribution of multisensory peripheral stimulation to TEPs using a TMS-compatible EEG system. Real TMS was delivered with a figure-of-eight coil over the left para-median posterior parietal cortex or superior frontal gyrus with the coil being oriented perpendicularly or in parallel to the target gyrus. We also recorded the EEG responses evoked by realistic sham stimulation over the posterior parietal and superior frontal cortex, mimicking the auditory and somatosensory sensations evoked by real TMS. We applied state-of-the-art procedures to attenuate somatosensory and auditory confounds during real TMS, including the placement of a foam layer underneath the coil and auditory noise masking. Despite these precautions, the temporal and spatial features of the cortical potentials evoked by real TMS at the prefrontal and parietal site closely resembled the cortical potentials evoked by realistic sham TMS, both for early and late TEP components. Our findings stress the need to include a peripheral multisensory control stimulation in the design of TMS-EEG studies to enable a dissociation between truly transcranial and non-transcranial components of TEPs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2018.10.052DOI Listing
January 2019

Alterations in the brain's connectome during recovery from severe traumatic brain injury: protocol for a longitudinal prospective study.

BMJ Open 2017 06 14;7(6):e016286. Epub 2017 Jun 14.

Danish Research Centre for Magnetic Resonance, Copenhagen University Hospital Hvidovre, Hvidovre, Denmark.

Introduction: Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is considered one of the most pervasive causes of disability in people under the age of 45. TBI often results in disorders of consciousness, and clinical assessment of the state of consciousness in these patients is challenging due to the lack of behavioural responsiveness. Functional neuroimaging offers a means to assess these patients without the need for behavioural signs, indicating that brain connectivity plays a major role in consciousness emergence and maintenance. However, little is known regarding how changes in connectivity during recovery from TBI accompany changes in the level of consciousness. Here, we aim to combine cutting-edge neuroimaging techniques to follow changes in brain connectivity in patients recovering from severe TBI.

Methods And Analysis: A multimodal, longitudinal assessment of 30 patients in the subacute stage after severe TBI will be made comprising an MRI session combined with electroencephalography (EEG), a positron emission tomography session and a transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) combined with EEG (TMS/EEG) session. A group of 20 healthy participants will be included for comparison. Four sessions for patients and two sessions for healthy participants will be planned. Data analysis techniques will focus on whole-brain, both data-driven and hypothesis-driven, connectivity measures that will be specific to the imaging modality.

Ethics And Dissemination: The project has received ethical approval by the local ethics committee of the Capital Region of Denmark and by the Danish Data Protection. Results will be published as original research articles in peer-reviewed journals and disseminated in international conferences. None of the measurements will have any direct clinical impact on the patients included in the study but may benefit future patients through a better understanding of the mechanisms underlying the recovery process after TBI. TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER NCT02424656; PRE-RESULTS.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2017-016286DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5541610PMC
June 2017

Instrument specific use-dependent plasticity shapes the anatomical properties of the corpus callosum: a comparison between musicians and non-musicians.

Front Behav Neurosci 2014 16;8:245. Epub 2014 Jul 16.

Department of Neurology and Clinic for Cognitive Neurology, Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, University Hospital Leipzig Leipzig, Germany.

Long-term musical expertise has been shown to be associated with a number of functional and structural brain changes, making it an attractive model for investigating use-dependent plasticity in humans. Physiological interhemispheric inhibition (IHI) as examined by transcranial magnetic stimulation has been shown to be correlated with anatomical properties of the corpus callosum as indexed by fractional anisotropy (FA). However, whether or not IHI or the relationship between IHI and FA in the corpus callosum can be modified by different musical training regimes remains largely unknown. We investigated this question in musicians with different requirements for bimanual finger movements (piano and string players) and non-expert controls. IHI values were generally higher in musicians, but differed significantly from non-musicians only in string players. IHI was correlated with FA in the posterior midbody of the corpus callosum across all participants. Interestingly, subsequent analyses revealed that this relationship may indeed be modulated by different musical training regimes. Crucially, while string players had greater IHI than non-musicians and showed a positive structure-function relationship, the amount of IHI in pianists was comparable to that of non-musicians and there was no significant structure-function relationship. Our findings indicate instrument specific use-dependent plasticity in both functional (IHI) and structural (FA) connectivity of motor related brain regions in musicians.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fnbeh.2014.00245DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4100438PMC
July 2014

Effect of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) during complex whole body motor skill learning.

Neurosci Lett 2013 Sep 7;552:76-80. Epub 2013 Aug 7.

Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Department of Neurology, D-04103 Leipzig, Germany.

The aim of the study was to investigate tDCS effects on motor skill learning in a complex whole body dynamic balance task (DBT). We hypothesized that tDCS over the supplementary motor area (SMA), a region that is known to be involved in the control of multi-joint whole body movements, will result in polarity specific changes in DBT learning. In a randomized sham-controlled, double-blinded parallel design, we applied 20 min of tDCS over the supplementary motor area (SMA) and prefrontal cortex (PFC) while subjects performed a DBT. Anodal tDCS over SMA with the cathode placed over contralateral PFC impaired motor skill learning of the DBT compared to sham. This effect was still present on the second day of training. Reversing the polarity (cathode over SMA, anode over PFC) did not affect motor skill learning neither on the first nor on the second day of training. To better disentangle whether the impaired motor skill learning was due to a modulation of SMA or PFC, we performed an additional control experiment. Here, we applied anodal tDCS over SMA together with a larger and presumably more ineffective electrode (cathode) over PFC. Interestingly this alternative tDCS electrode setup did not affect the outcome of DBT learning. Our results provide novel evidence that a modulation of the (right) PFC seems to impair complex multi-joint motor skill learning. Hence, future studies should take the positioning of both tDCS electrodes into account when investigating complex motor skill learning.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neulet.2013.07.034DOI Listing
September 2013

Structural brain plasticity in Parkinson's disease induced by balance training.

Neurobiol Aging 2014 Jan 1;35(1):232-9. Epub 2013 Aug 1.

Department of Neurology, Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Leipzig, Germany; Clinic for Cognitive Neurology, University of Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany. Electronic address:

We investigated morphometric brain changes in patients with Parkinson's disease (PD) that are associated with balance training. A total of 20 patients and 16 healthy matched controls learned a balance task over a period of 6 weeks. Balance testing and structural magnetic resonance imaging were performed before and after 2, 4, and 6 training weeks. Balance performance was re-evaluated after ∼20 months. Balance training resulted in performance improvements in both groups. Voxel-based morphometry revealed learning-dependent gray matter changes in the left hippocampus in healthy controls. In PD patients, performance improvements were correlated with gray matter changes in the right anterior precuneus, left inferior parietal cortex, left ventral premotor cortex, bilateral anterior cingulate cortex, and left middle temporal gyrus. Furthermore, a TIME × GROUP interaction analysis revealed time-dependent gray matter changes in the right cerebellum. Our results highlight training-induced balance improvements in PD patients that may be associated with specific patterns of structural brain plasticity. In summary, we provide novel evidence for the capacity of the human brain to undergo learning-related structural plasticity even in a pathophysiological disease state such as in PD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2013.06.021DOI Listing
January 2014

Reversed timing-dependent associative plasticity in the human brain through interhemispheric interactions.

J Neurophysiol 2013 May 13;109(9):2260-71. Epub 2013 Feb 13.

Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences and Department of Neurology and Clinic for Cognitive Neurology, University Hospital Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany.

Spike timing-dependent plasticity (STDP) has been proposed as one of the key mechanisms underlying learning and memory. Repetitive median nerve stimulation, followed by transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) of the contralateral primary motor cortex (M1), defined as paired-associative stimulation (PAS), has been used as an in vivo model of STDP in humans. PAS-induced excitability changes in M1 have been repeatedly shown to be time-dependent in a STDP-like fashion, since synchronous arrival of inputs within M1 induces long-term potentiation-like effects, whereas an asynchronous arrival induces long-term depression (LTD)-like effects. Here, we show that interhemispheric inhibition of the sensorimotor network during PAS, with the peripheral stimulation over the hand ipsilateral to the motor cortex receiving TMS, results in a LTD-like effect, as opposed to the standard STDP-like effect seen for contralateral PAS. Furthermore, we could show that this reversed-associative plasticity critically depends on the timing interval between afferent and cortical stimulation. These results indicate that the outcome of associative stimulation in the human brain depends on functional network interactions (inhibition or facilitation) at a systems level and can either follow standard or reversed STDP-like mechanisms.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1152/jn.01004.2012DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3652216PMC
May 2013

Study of cerebello-thalamocortical pathway by transcranial magnetic stimulation in Parkinson's disease.

Brain Stimul 2013 Jul 4;6(4):582-9. Epub 2013 Jan 4.

Unidad de Trastornos del Movimiento, Servicio de Neurología y Neurofisiología Clínica, Instituto de Biomedicina de Sevilla, Hospital Universitario Virgen del Rocío/CSIC/Universidad de Sevilla, Seville, Spain.

Background: Although functional changes in the activation of the cerebellum in Parkinson's disease (PD) patients have been consistently described, it is still debated whether such altered cerebellar activation is a natural consequence of PD pathophysiology or rather it involves compensatory mechanisms.

Objective/hypothesis: We used different forms of cerebellar transcranial magnetic stimulation to evaluate the hypothesis that altered cerebello-cortical interactions can be observed in PD patients and to evaluate the role of dopaminergic treatment.

Methods: We studied the effects of a single cerebellar magnetic pulse over the excitability of the contralateral primary motor cortex tested with motor-evoked potentials (MEPs) (cerebellar-brain inhibition-CBI) in a group of 16 PD patients with (ON) and without dopaminergic treatment (OFF), and in 16 age-matched healthy controls. Moreover, we also tested the effects of cerebellar continuous theta-burst stimulation (cTBS) on MEP amplitude, short intracortical inhibition (SICI) and short intracortical facilitation (SICF) tested in the contralateral M1 in 13 PD patients in ON and OFF and in 16 age-matched healthy controls.

Results: CBI was evident in controls but not in PD patients, even when tested in both ON and OFF conditions. Similarly, cerebellar cTBS reduced MEP amplitude and SICI in controls but not in PD patients under any condition.

Conclusion(s): These results demonstrate that PD patients have deficient short-latency and long-lasting cerebellar-thalamocortical inhibitory interactions that cannot be promptly restored by standard dopaminergic medication.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.brs.2012.12.004DOI Listing
July 2013

Abnormal GABA-mediated and cerebellar inhibition in women with the fragile X premutation.

J Neurophysiol 2013 Mar 12;109(5):1315-22. Epub 2012 Dec 12.

Unidad de Trastornos del Movimiento, Servicio de Neurología y Neurofisiolgía Clínica, Instituto de Biomedicina de Sevilla, Hospital Universitario Virgen del Rocío/Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas/Universidad de Sevilla, Seville, Spain.

The fragile X syndrome is a mutation-driven developmental disorder caused by a repetition over 200 times of the CGG trinucleotide situated in the 5'-untranslated region of the fragile X mental retardation 1 gene (FMR1). The interval between 55 and 199 CGG repeats, which is over the normal range but below full mutation, is named fragile X premutation. Recent studies have focused on the asymptomatic state of fragile X premutation carriers and their potentially relevant preclinical features. However, the underlying neurological mechanisms leading to altered functions in fragile X premutation carriers are still poorly understood. In this study, we wanted to test the hypothesis that asymptomatic women who carry the fragile X premutation present GABAergic and cerebellar abnormalities compared with healthy women without the premutation. We performed noninvasive brain stimulation protocols on both asymptomatic fragile X premutation carriers and controls comprising of measures of GABAA- and GABAB-mediated intracortical inhibition, afferent inhibition, and cerebello-motor functional interactions. Premutation carriers presented an absence of cerebellar inhibition over primary motor cortex as well as a reduced GABAA-mediated intracortical and afferent inhibition compared with healthy nonpremutated controls. These alterations are most probably dependent on a dysfunctional GABAergic mechanism associated with the fragile X premutation condition as previously found in CGG-repeat animal models. Furthermore, the lack of cerebello-motor inhibition could be related to the cerebellar structural abnormalities previously found in carriers of the premutation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1152/jn.00730.2012DOI Listing
March 2013

A novel ring electrode setup for the recording of somatosensory evoked potentials during transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS).

J Neurosci Methods 2013 Jan 26;212(2):234-6. Epub 2012 Oct 26.

Department of Neurology, Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Leipzig, Germany.

Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) modulates cortical excitability thereby influencing behavior and learning. While previous studies focused on tDCS after-effects, limited information about "online" tDCS effects is available. This in turn is an important prerequisite to better characterize and/or optimize tDCS effects. Here, we aimed to explore the feasibility of recording low-artifact somatosensory evoked potentials (SEPs) during tDCS using a novel ring electrode setup. We recorded SEP before, during and after 10 min of anodal or sham tDCS using a full-band direct current (DC) EEG system in a total number of 3 subjects. SEPs were recorded in the bore of the tDCS ring electrode. Using this approach, no tDCS-induced artifacts could be observed after the application of a standard EEG filter. This new setup might help to better characterize how tDCS alters evoked brain responses thus providing novel insight into underlying physiological effects during stimulation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jneumeth.2012.10.006DOI Listing
January 2013

Dynamic modulation of intrinsic functional connectivity by transcranial direct current stimulation.

J Neurophysiol 2012 Dec 19;108(12):3253-63. Epub 2012 Sep 19.

Department of Neurology, Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Leipzig, Germany.

Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is a noninvasive brain stimulation technique capable of modulating cortical excitability and thereby influencing behavior and learning. Recent evidence suggests that bilateral tDCS over both primary sensorimotor cortices (SM1) yields more prominent effects on motor performance in both healthy subjects and chronic stroke patients than unilateral tDCS over SM1. To better characterize the underlying neural mechanisms of this effect, we aimed to explore changes in resting-state functional connectivity during both stimulation types. In a randomized single-blind crossover design, 12 healthy subjects underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging at rest before, during, and after 20 min of unilateral, bilateral, and sham tDCS stimulation over SM1. Eigenvector centrality mapping (ECM) was used to investigate tDCS-induced changes in functional connectivity patterns across the whole brain. Uni- and bilateral tDCS over SM1 resulted in functional connectivity changes in widespread brain areas compared with sham stimulation both during and after stimulation. Whereas bilateral tDCS predominantly modulated changes in primary and secondary motor as well as prefrontal regions, unilateral tDCS affected prefrontal, parietal, and cerebellar areas. No direct effect was seen under the stimulating electrode in the unilateral condition. The time course of changes in functional connectivity in the respective brain areas was nonlinear and temporally dispersed. These findings provide evidence toward a network-based understanding regarding the underpinnings of specific tDCS interventions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1152/jn.00606.2012DOI Listing
December 2012

Anodal transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) over supplementary motor area (SMA) but not pre-SMA promotes short-term visuomotor learning.

Brain Stimul 2013 Mar 7;6(2):101-7. Epub 2012 May 7.

Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Department of Neurology and Clinic for Cognitive Neurology, University Hospital Leipzig, Germany.

Background: Non-invasive brain stimulation such as transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) has been shown to modulate cortical excitability and thereby influencing motor behaviour and learning.

Hypothesis: While there is increasing knowledge about the importance of the primary motor cortex (M1) in short- and long-term motor skill learning, little is known about the role of secondary motor areas such as the supplementary and pre-supplementary motor area (SMA/pre-SMA) especially in short-term motor performance. Since SMA but not pre-SMA is directly connected to M1, we hypothesize that anodal tDCS over SMA but not pre-SMA will facilitate visuomotor learning.

Methods: We applied anodal tDCS (tDCS(anodal)) over left SMA, pre-SMA or M1 (n=12 in each group) while subjects performed a visuomotor pinch force task (VPFT) with their right hand and compared VPFT performance relative to sham (tDCS(sham)).

Results: For the first time, we could show that apart from tDCS(anodal) over left M1 also SMA but not pre-SMA stimulation promotes short-term improvements in visuomotor learning relative to tDCS(sham).

Conclusions: Our findings provide novel evidence about the role of SMA in short-term visuomotor performance. This knowledge might be beneficial in developing hypothesis-driven clinical studies in neurorehabilitation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.brs.2012.03.018DOI Listing
March 2013

Task-irrelevant auditory feedback facilitates motor performance in musicians.

Front Psychol 2012 16;3:146. Epub 2012 May 16.

Department of Cognitive Neurology, Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences Leipzig, Germany.

An efficient and fast auditory-motor network is a basic resource for trained musicians due to the importance of motor anticipation of sound production in musical performance. When playing an instrument, motor performance always goes along with the production of sounds and the integration between both modalities plays an essential role in the course of musical training. The aim of the present study was to investigate the role of task-irrelevant auditory feedback during motor performance in musicians using a serial reaction time task (SRTT). Our hypothesis was that musicians, due to their extensive auditory-motor practice routine during musical training, have superior performance and learning capabilities when receiving auditory feedback during SRTT relative to musicians performing the SRTT without any auditory feedback. Behaviorally, we found that auditory feedback reinforced SRTT performance of the right hand (referring to absolute response speed) while learning capabilities remained unchanged. This finding highlights a potential important role for task-irrelevant auditory feedback in motor performance in musicians, a finding that might provide further insight into auditory-motor integration independent of the trained musical context.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00146DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3353260PMC
October 2012

Bidirectional gray matter changes after complex motor skill learning.

Front Syst Neurosci 2012 16;6:37. Epub 2012 May 16.

Department of Neurology and Clinic for Cognitive Neurology, Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, University Hospital Leipzig Leipzig, Germany.

Long-term motor skill learning has been consistently shown to result in functional as well as structural changes in the adult human brain. However, the effect of short learning periods on brain structure is not well understood. In the present study, subjects performed a sequential pinch force task (SPFT) for 20 min on 5 consecutive days. Changes in brain structure were evaluated with anatomical magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans acquired on the first and last day of motor skill learning. Behaviorally, the SPFT resulted in sequence-specific learning with the trained (right) hand. Structural gray matter (GM) alterations in left M1, right ventral premotor cortex (PMC) and right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) correlated with performance improvements in the SPFT. More specifically we found that subjects with strong sequence-specific performance improvements in the SPFT also had larger increases in GM volume in the respective brain areas. On the other hand, subjects with small behavioral gains either showed no change or even a decrease in GM volume during the time course of learning. Furthermore, cerebellar GM volume before motor skill learning predicted (A) individual learning-related changes in the SPFT and (B) the amount of structural changes in left M1, right ventral PMC and DLPFC. In summary, we provide novel evidence that short-term motor skill learning is associated with learning-related structural brain alterations. Additionally, we showed that practicing a motor skill is not exclusively accompanied by increased GM volume. Instead, bidirectional structural alterations explained the variability of the individual learning success.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fnsys.2012.00037DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3353266PMC
October 2012

Parieto-motor functional connectivity is impaired in Parkinson's disease.

Brain Stimul 2013 Mar 15;6(2):147-54. Epub 2012 Apr 15.

Unidad de Trastornos del Movimiento, Servicio de Neurología y Neurofisiología Clínica, Instituto de Biomedicina de Sevilla, Hospital Universitario Virgen del Rocío/CSIC/Universidad de Sevilla, Seville, Spain.

Background: Bradykinesia in Parkinson's disease is associated with a difficulty in selecting and executing motor actions, likely due to alterations in the functional connectivity of cortico-cortical circuits.

Objective/hypothesis: Our aims were to analyse the functional interplay between the posterior parietal cortex and the ipsilateral primary motor area in Parkinson's disease using bifocal transcranial magnetic stimulation, to evaluate its modulation by dopaminergic treatment and its relationship to a simple choice reaction task.

Methods: We studied 12 Parkinson's disease patients with and without dopaminergic treatment and 12 healthy controls. A paired-pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation protocol was applied over the right posterior parietal cortex and the right primary motor area using different conditioning stimulus intensities and interstimulus intervals. Reaction and movement times were studied by a simple choice reaction task.

Results: In controls, we observed a significant facilitation of motor evoked potential amplitudes at 4 ms interstimulus interval when conditioning stimulus intensity was set to 90% of resting motor threshold. This functional interaction was not observed in Parkinson's disease patients without dopaminergic treatment and was not restored with treatment. Moreover, correlation analyses revealed that Parkinson's disease patients with less impaired parieto-motor interaction were faster in executing reaching movements in a choice reaction time task, suggesting that the functional parieto-motor impairment described here could be related to bradykinesia observed in Parkinson's disease patients.

Conclusions: Parieto-motor functional connectivity is impaired in Parkinson's disease. The reduced efficacy of this connection could be related to presence of bradykinesia previously observed in Parkinson's disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.brs.2012.03.017DOI Listing
March 2013

Cortical thickness in primary sensorimotor cortex influences the effectiveness of paired associative stimulation.

Neuroimage 2012 Apr 14;60(2):864-70. Epub 2012 Jan 14.

Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Department of Neurology, D-04103 Leipzig, Germany.

Non-invasive brain stimulation protocols in general and paired associative stimulation (PAS) in particular seem to alter corticospinal excitability and thereby to influence behaviour with a high degree of inter-subject variability. The cause of this variability is multidimensional and to some extent still unknown. Here, we tested the hypothesis that individual variations in cortical thickness can explain some of the variability of PAS-induced excitability changes. Ten minutes of a facilitatory PAS protocol (PAS(LTP)) rapidly increased corticospinal excitability in the majority of the subjects (14/19 subjects) while others showed no such effect (5/19 subjects). A whole brain correlation analysis based on high resolution T1-weighted images revealed a significant positive relationship of PAS(LTP)-induced excitability changes with cortical thickness of the underlying left sensorimotor cortex (SM1) only. Cortical thickness alone, among other potential influencing factors, explained about half of the PAS(LTP) variance, indicating that subjects with a strong after-effect were those with thicker gray matter in this region. Based on these findings, we provide novel evidence that local brain structure influences the individual amount of functional plasticity induced by PAS(LTP). While the underlying neurophysiological and/or anatomical reasons for this effect still remain elusive at this point, we conclude that cortical thickness should be considered as an important and until now not recognized modulating factor in studies employing non-invasive brain stimulation techniques.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2012.01.052DOI Listing
April 2012

Enhancing the effect of repetitive I-wave paired-pulse TMS (iTMS) by adjusting for the individual I-wave periodicity.

BMC Neurosci 2011 May 18;12:45. Epub 2011 May 18.

Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Department of Neurology, D-04103 Leipzig, Germany.

Background: Repeated application of paired-pulse TMS over the primary motor cortex (M1) in human subjects with an inter-pulse interval (IPI) of 1.5 ms (iTMS(1.5 ms)) has been shown to significantly increase paired-pulse MEP (ppMEP) amplitudes during the stimulation period and increased single-pulse MEP amplitudes for up to 10 minutes after termination of iTMS.

Results: Here we show in a cross-over design that a modified version of the iTMS(1.5 ms) protocol with an I-wave periodicity adjusted to the individual I1-peak wave latency (iTMS(adj)) resulted in a stronger effect on ppMEPs relative to iTMS(1.5 ms).

Conclusions: Based on these findings, our results indicate that the efficiency of iTMS strongly depends on the individual choice of the IPI and that parameter optimization of the conventional iTMS(1.5 ms) protocol might improve the outcome of this novel non-invasive brain stimulation technique.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1471-2202-12-45DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3118964PMC
May 2011