Middle cerebral artery blood flow stability in response to high-definition transcranial electrical stimulation: A randomized sham-controlled clinical trial
Clinical Neurology and Neurosurgery
School of Medical and Health Sciences / Exercise Medicine Research Institute
Coordenaçao de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES, funding code 001), Brazil
Since neuronal activity is coupled with neurovascular activity, we aimed to analyze the cerebral blood flow hemodynamics during and following high-definition transcranial direct current stimulation (HD-tDCS). We assessed the mean middle cerebral artery blood flow velocity (MCA-BFv) bilaterally using transcranial doppler ultrasound, during and after HD-tDCS, in eleven right-handed healthy adult participants (6 women, 5 men; mean age 31 ± 5.6 years old), with no evidence of brain or cardiovascular dysfunction. The HD-tDCS electrode montage was centered over the right temporo-parietal junction. The stimulation protocol comprised 3 blocks of 2 min at each current intensity (1, 2, and 3 mA) and an inter-stimulus interval of 5 min between blocks. Participants received three electrical stimulation conditions (anode center, cathode center, and sham) on three different days, with an interval of at least 24 h. Stimulation was well tolerated across HD-tDCS conditions tested, and the volunteers reported no significant discomfort related to stimulation. There was no significant difference in the right or the left MCA-BFv during or after the stimulation protocol across all stimulation conditions. We conclude that at a range of intensities, vascular reaction assessed using middle cerebral artery blood flow is not significantly altered during or after HD-tDCS both locally and remotely, which provides further evidence for the safety of HD-tDCS.