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Can non-invasive brain stimulation enhance neuroplasticity mediated by brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in the healthy and injured brain: a new therapeutic tool for improving recovery after stroke.

This project addresses whether transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) of the brain can enhance neuroplasticity in healthy adults and stroke survivors. Our working hypothesis is that tDCS up-regulates BDNF mediated processes, which drive functional and structural plasticity. Human BDNF shows a single nucleotide polymorphism (Valine to Methionine substitution) which is relatively common and results in reduced neuroplasticity in Met carriers. Initial fundamental research will comprise a series of double-blind sham controlled studies to test whether tDCS applied during short- as well as long-term training interacts with the BDNF polymorphism of healthy adults. Neuroplasticity will be quantified by behavioral and neurophysiological measurements, as well as functional and structural brain imaging. We hypothesize that tDCS will enhance training effects in both groups, but that higher gains and larger structural brain changes will be induced in Val than in Met carriers. These results will inform a clinical study in patients suffering from motor impairments after stroke. We expect that tDCS applied during conventional rehabilitation training induces a significant improvement of motor function, particularly in Val carriers. In a complementary innovative module, we will develop an in-vivo tDCS method for rodents, with the aim to provide a window into the underlying molecular mechanisms.
Date:1 Jan 2010 →  31 Dec 2013
Keywords:Stroke, Motor system, Brain stimulation, Neuroplasticity, Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation, Brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF)
Disciplines:Orthopaedics, Human movement and sports sciences, Rehabilitation sciences