Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) may enhance speech and language treatment (SLT) for stroke survivors with aphasia; however, to date, there is no standard protocol for the application of tDCS in post-stroke aphasia. We explored the safety and efficacy of fMRI-guided tDCS on functional language and cortical activity when delivered to the lesioned left hemisphere concurrently with SLT across an extended, six-week treatment period. Twelve persons with chronic, nonfluent aphasia following a single left-hemisphere stroke participated in the three-arm (anodal vs. cathodal vs. sham) single-blind, parallel, pilot trial. No serious adverse events occurred during 30 treatment sessions or in the following six weeks. All groups demonstrated functional language gains following intensive treatment; however, active tDCS resulted in greater gains in standardized, probe, and caregiver-reported measures of functional language than sham. Evidence declaring one polarity as superior for inducing language recovery was mixed. However, cathodal stimulation to the lesioned left hemisphere, expected to have a down-regulating effect, resulted in increased areas of cortical activation across both hemispheres, and specifically perilesionally. Generalization of these preliminary findings is limited; however, results are nevertheless compelling that tDCS combined with SLT can be safely applied across extended durations, with the potential to enhance functional language and cortical activation for persons with aphasia.
- Interhemispheric inhibition (IHI)
- Non-invasive brain stimulation (NIBS), nonfluent
- Speech language therapy
- Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS)
ASJC Scopus subject areas