Abstract

Several studies have already shown that transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is a useful tool for enhancing recovery in aphasia. However, no reports to date have investigated functional connectivity changes on cortical activity because of tDCS language treatment. Here, nine aphasic persons with articulatory disorders underwent an intensive language therapy in two different conditions: bilateral anodic stimulation over the left Broca's area and cathodic contralesional stimulation over the right homologue of Broca's area and a sham condition. The language treatment lasted 3 weeks (Monday to Friday, 15 sessions). In all patients, language measures were collected before (T0) and at the end of treatment (T15). Before and after each treatment condition (real vs. sham), each participant underwent a resting-state fMRI study. Results showed that, after real stimulation, patients exhibited the greatest recovery not only in terms of better accuracy in articulating the treated stimuli but also for untreated items on different tasks of the language test. Moreover, although after the sham condition connectivity changes were confined to the right brain hemisphere, real stimulation yielded to stronger functional connectivity increase in the left hemisphere. In conclusion, our data provide converging evidence from behavioral and functional imaging data that bilateral tDCS determines functional connectivity changes within the lesioned hemisphere, enhancing the language recovery process in stroke patients.

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