Effects of Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) and High Definition-tDCS (HD-tDCS) on motor learning in children: Robotic Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) motor maps, current modelling, and resting state functional connectivity

Funding Details
Canadian Institutes of Health Research
  • Grant type: Doctoral: Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships
  • Years: 2019/20 to 2020/21
  • Total Funding: $100,000
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Project Summary

Many of the 50000 Canadians had brain injuries near the time of birth, such as perinatal stroke. Perinatal stroke is the leading cause of cerebral palsy, a lifelong movement disability affecting the quality of life for both the individual and the family. Though treatment options are limited, we have shown that non-invasive brain stimulation may enhance motor function in such children. Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), painlessly delivers very weak electric currents to change the excitability of the brain. A newer form, High-Definition tDCS may be more effective but was untested in children. A major limitation to advancing such treatments is that we have little understanding of how they work. Many new technologies can map the brain and explore how it changes with stimulation and learning. This project aims to understand how non-invasive brain stimulation can enhance motor learning in children. First, we are completing a trial to prove that both forms can help children learn motor tasks faster. Within this study, we are completing measurements of each child's brain before and after the intervention. A special robot will compare how a child's "motor map" changes with learning and stimulation. Specialized pictures from MRI scans will explore how the motor network changes and how non-invasive brain stimulation current moves through a child's brain. Finally, we will extrapolate this approach to understand how non-invasive brain stimulation works within the largest cross Canada clinical trial of 100 children with perinatal stroke. With cutting edge technologies including the only Pediatric Neurostimulation lab in Canada and the first Pediatric TMS Robot in the world, we are uniquely positioned to accomplish this work to lead definitive trials. This work will immediately improve our ability to design personalized rehabilitation approaches for the youngest stroke patients to ultimately reduce the morbidities of their strokes that last an entire lifetime.