Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) in stroke and healthy aging

Neuroimaging and Robotic Assessment of Instantaneous (Online) Effects of tDCS on MotorControl in Sensorimotor Stroke Patients

Patients with sensorimotor deficits in the chronic phase after stroke exhibit a number of marked changes in brain physiology and structure. In recent years, various non-invasive brain stimulation techniques have been developed, potentially allowing a modulation of brain plasticity processes. Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is one such method. In the scope of this project, we want to investigate the instantaneous or “online” effect of two different tDCS approaches. To determine which of the two approaches induces the strongest modulation of brain physiology and behavior, we use non-invasive brain imaging (functional and structural magnetic resonance imaging) and a complex robotic assessment of upper extremity motor function (KINARM exoskeleton).

Neuroimaging and Robotic Assessment of Instantaneous (Online) Effects of tDCS on MotorControl in Healthy Aging

Natural aging has a strong effect on the function and structure of the human brain. It has been shown previously that non-invasive brain stimulation techniques exert different effects in healthy elderly subjects as compared to younger healthy subjects, which implies an age-dependence of stimulation-induced changes. Since stroke is a disease that occurs more frequently in the later period of life, it is important to investigate the relationship between natural age-related brain changes and acquired brain damages, for both seem to shape individual responses to stimulation. To investigate the dependence of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) on natural ageing, we investigate a cohort of younger (aged 18-35) and elderly subjects (aged 60-85) in an extension to project 1 (see above). Again, we investigate the effect of two different types of tDCS on brain physiology and behavioral performance, as measured with non-invasive brain imaging and robotic assessment tools, respectively.

Influence of tDCS on Proprioceptive Accuracy in Healthy Aging

Based on the experimental design of experiments 1 and 2, we investigate the effect of transcranial direct current simulation (tDCS) on proprioceptive accuracy. In this experiment, electrodes are placed over the primary somatosensory cortex (S1). Accuracy is assessed by means of the Arm Position Matching Task in the KINARM Exoskeleton. To assess the aging dependencies, we test a group of young (18-35 years) and old adults (60-80 years).           
(Supervision of thesis project of Franziska Kirsch)

Robotic Diagnostics of Sensorimotor Impairments in the Day Clinic for Cognitive Neurology

The Day Clinic for Cognitive Neurology at the University Hospital Leipzig offers a specialized consultation for sensorimotor rehabilitation in the chronic phase after stroke. Patients undergo extensive interdisciplinary diagnostic assessments in order to accurately describe current health status and delineate avenues for appropriate therapeutic proceedings. We are using the KINARM exoskeleton lab to enhance the clinical assessment of sensorimotor motor.      
(Cooperation with Day Clinic for Cognitive Neurology)

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