Transcranial electrical stimulation during functional magnetic resonance imaging in patients with genetic generalized epilepsy: a pilot and feasibility study

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Abstract

Objective: A third of patients with epilepsy continue to have seizures despite receiving adequate antiseizure medication. Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) might be a viable adjunct treatment option, having been shown to reduce epileptic seizures in patients with focal epilepsy. Evidence for the use of tDCS in genetic generalized epilepsy (GGE) is scarce. We aimed to establish the feasibility of applying tDCS during fMRI in patients with GGE to study the acute neuromodulatory effects of tDCS, particularly on sensorimotor network activity. Methods: Seven healthy controls and three patients with GGE received tDCS with simultaneous fMRI acquisition while watching a movie. Three tDCS conditions were applied: anodal, cathodal and sham. Periods of 60 s without stimulation were applied between each stimulation condition. Changes in sensorimotor cortex connectivity were evaluated by calculating the mean degree centrality across eight nodes of the sensorimotor cortex defined by the Automated Anatomical Labeling atlas (primary motor cortex (precentral left and right), supplementary motor area (left and right), mid-cingulum (left and right), postcentral gyrus (left and right)), across each of the conditions, for each participant. Results: Simultaneous tDCS-fMRI was well tolerated in both healthy controls and patients without adverse effects. Anodal and cathodal stimulation reduced mean degree centrality of the sensorimotor network (Friedman’s ANOVA with Dunn’s multiple comparisons test; adjusted p = 0.02 and p = 0.03 respectively). Mean degree connectivity of the sensorimotor network during the sham condition was not different to the rest condition (adjusted p = 0.94). Conclusion: Applying tDCS during fMRI was shown to be feasible and safe in a small group of patients with GGE. Anodal and cathodal stimulation caused a significant reduction in network connectivity of the sensorimotor cortex across participants. This initial research supports the feasibility of using fMRI to guide and understand network modulation by tDCS that might facilitate its clinical application in GGE in the future.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1354523
JournalFrontiers in Neuroscience
Volume18
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2024

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