Effects of tdcs on language recovery in post-stroke aphasia: A pilot study investigating clinical parameters and white matter change with diffusion imaging

Radwa K. Soliman*, Chantal M.W. Tax, Noha Abo-Elfetoh, Ahmed A. Karim, Ayda Youssef, Doaa Kamal, Eman M. Khedr

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Objectives: In this pilot study we investigated the effects of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) on language recovery in the subacute stage of post-stroke aphasia using clinical parameters and diffusion imaging with constrained spherical deconvolution-based tractography. Methods: The study included 21 patients with subacute post-stroke aphasia. Patients were randomly classified into two groups with a ratio of 2:1 to receive real tDCS or sham tDCS as placebo control. Patients received 10 sessions (5/week) bi-hemispheric tDCS treatments over the left affected Broca’s area (anodal electrode) and over the right unaffected Broca’s area (cathodal stimulation). Aphasia score was assessed clinically using the language section of the Hemispheric Stroke Scale (HSS) before and after treatment sessions. Diffusion imaging and tractography were performed for seven patients of the real group, both before and after the 10th session. Dissection of language-related white matter tracts was achieved, and diffusion measures were extracted. A paired Student’s t-test was used to compare the clinical recovery and diffusion measures of the dissected tracts both pre-and post-treatment. The partial correlation between changes in diffusion measures and the language improvements was calculated. Results: At baseline assessment, there were no significant differences between groups in demographic and clinical HSS language score. No significant clinical recovery in HSS was evident in the sham group. However, significant improvements in the different components of HSS were only observed in patients receiving real tDCS. Associated significant increase in the fractional anisotropy of the right uncinate fasciculus and a significant reduction in the mean diffusivity of the right frontal aslant tract were reported. A significant positive correlation was found between the changes in the right uncinate fasciculus and fluency improvement. Conclusions: Aphasia recovery after bi-hemispheric transcranial direct current stimulation was associated with contralesional right-sided white matter changes at the subacute stage. These changes probably reflect neuroplasticity that could contribute to the recovery. Both the right uncinate fasciculus and right frontal aslant tract seem to be involved in aphasia recovery.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1277
JournalBrain Sciences
Volume11
Issue number10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 26 Sept 2021
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Aphasia recovery
  • Constrained spherical deconvolution
  • Diffusion imaging
  • Frontal aslant tract
  • Transcranial direct current stimulation
  • Uncinate fasciculus
  • White matter
  • diffusion imaging
  • frontal aslant tract
  • transcranial direct current stimulation
  • aphasia recovery
  • uncinate fasciculus
  • white matter
  • constrained spherical deconvolution

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