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Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) can enhance motor and language rehabilitation after stroke. Though brain lesions distort tDCS-induced electric field (E-field), systematic accounts remain limited. Using electric field modelling, we investigated the effect of 630 synthetic lesions on E-field magnitude in the region of interest (ROI). Models were conducted for two tDCS montages targeting either primary motor cortex (M1) or Broca's area (BA44). Absolute E-field magnitude in the ROI differed by up to 42% compared to the non-lesioned brain depending on lesion size, lesion-ROI distance, and lesion conductivity value. Lesion location determined the sign of this difference: lesions in-line with the predominant direction of current increased E-field magnitude in the ROI, whereas lesions located in the opposite direction decreased E-field magnitude. We further explored how individualised tDCS can control lesion-induced effects on E-field. Lesions affected the individualised electrode configuration needed to maximise E-field magnitude in the ROI, but this effect was negligible when prioritising the maximisation of radial inward current. Lesions distorting tDCS-induced E-field, is likely to exacerbate inter-individual variability in E-field magnitude. Individualising electrode configuration and stimulator output can minimise lesion-induced variability but requires improved estimates of lesion conductivity. Individualised tDCS is critical to overcome E-field variability in lesioned brains.

Original publication




Journal article


Sci Rep

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Humans, Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation, Brain, Stroke, Head, Broca Area