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Improving Hand Movement Training Through Electrical Stimulation of the Brain

This study has been completed.
Information provided by:
National Institutes of Health Clinical Center (CC) Identifier:
First received: May 27, 2006
Last updated: June 30, 2017
Last verified: April 21, 2008

This study will determine if applying electrical stimulation of the brain can influence training to perform finger movements. The study may provide information that can be used to design rehabilitation therapies for people who have lost the ability to move a part of their body, such as an arm, leg, or hand following a stroke.

Healthy volunteers 18-50 years of age may be eligible for this study. Candidates are screened with a medical history, physical examination, MRI (if one has not been done within the last year), questionnaire to evaluate memory and attention and a pregnancy test for women who can become pregnant.

Participants have the following tests and procedures in seven sessions over about 8 weeks:

  • Questionnaires to test attention, fatigue and mood before, during and after each session
  • Surface electromyography: Electrodes are filed with a conductive gel and taped to the skin over one small hand muscle to measure the electrical activity of muscles.
  • Transcranial magnetic stimulation: A wire coil is held on the scalp. A brief electrical current passes through the coil to stimulate the brain. During the stimulation, the subject may be asked to tense certain muscles slightly or perform other simple actions. The stimulation may cause a twitch in muscles of the face, arm, or leg, and the subject may hear a click and feel a pulling sensation on the skin under the coil.
  • Transcranial direct stimulation (tDCS) before and during motor training: Small, wet sponge electrodes are applied to the head - one above the eye and the other on the back of the head. A small electrical current is passed between them. The subject may feel an itching or tingling sensation under the electrodes or see light flashes.
  • Motor learning under tDCS: tDCS is repeated while the subject performs the training task. The training task consists of performing voluntary brisk thumb movements in a direction opposite to TMS-induced movement directions, during 30 minutes. Training blocks are in 10-minute segments and tDCS is applied during the first 20 minutes.
  • Behavioral measurements: Evaluation of learned movement tasks.


Study Type: Observational
Official Title: Encoding a Motor Memory Through Metaplasticity

Further study details as provided by National Institutes of Health Clinical Center (CC):

Estimated Enrollment: 31
Study Start Date: May 24, 2006
Estimated Study Completion Date: April 21, 2008
  Show Detailed Description


Ages Eligible for Study:   18 Years to 50 Years   (Adult)
Sexes Eligible for Study:   All
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   Yes
  • age between 18-50 years
  • able to perform tasks required by the study
  • willing and able to give consent
  • willing to make an eight-week commitment to the study
  • possibility of obtaining TMS-evoked thumb movements in a consistent direction at baseline


  • unable to perform the tasks
  • history of severe alcohol or drug abuse, psychiatric illness such as severe depression, poor motivational capacity, or severe language disturbances, particularly of receptive nature or with serious cognitive deficits (defined as equivalent to a mini-mental state exam score (MMSE) of 23 or less), or degenerative brain processes such as Alzheimer's disease
  • severe uncontrolled medical problems (e.g., cardiovascular disease, severe rheumatoid arthritis, active joint deformity of arthritic origin, active cancer or renal disease, any kind of end-stage pulmonary or cardiovascular disease, or a deteriorated condition due to age, uncontrolled epilepsy or others), more than moderate to severe microangiopathy, polyneuropathy, diabetes mellitus, or ischemic peripheral disease
  • problems with movement of the hands
  • receiving drugs acting primarily on the central nervous system, which lower the seizure threshold such as antipsychotic drugs (chlorpromazine, clozapine) or tricyclic antidepressants (for the TMS component)
  • pregnancy and during lactation
  • medical or technical contraindications to MRI procedures or devices producing artifacts that impair MRI signal (e.g., dental braces, pacemakers, implanted medication pumps, cochlear devices, neural stimulators, metal in the cranium, surgical clips, and other metal/magnetic implants, claustrophobia)
  Contacts and Locations
Choosing to participate in a study is an important personal decision. Talk with your doctor and family members or friends about deciding to join a study. To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the Contacts provided below. For general information, see Learn About Clinical Studies.

Please refer to this study by its identifier: NCT00331318

United States, Maryland
National Institutes of Health Clinical Center, 9000 Rockville Pike
Bethesda, Maryland, United States, 20892
Sponsors and Collaborators
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
  More Information

Publications: Identifier: NCT00331318     History of Changes
Other Study ID Numbers: 060171
Study First Received: May 27, 2006
Last Updated: June 30, 2017

Keywords provided by National Institutes of Health Clinical Center (CC):
Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS)
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)
Motor Learning
Brain Plasticity
Healthy Volunteer
HV processed this record on September 19, 2017