Henriette Edemann-Callesen, Bettina Habelt, Franziska Wieske, Mark Jackson, Niranjan Khadka, Daniele Mattei, Nadine Bernhardt, Andreas Heinz, David Liebetanz, Marom Bikson, Frank Padberg, Ravit Hadar, Michael A. Nitsche & Christine Winter
Involuntary movements as seen in repetitive disorders such as Tourette Syndrome (TS) results from cortical hyperexcitability that arise due to striato-thalamo-cortical circuit (STC) imbalance. Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is a stimulation procedure that changes cortical excitability, yet its relevance in repetitive disorders such as TS remains largely unexplored. Here, we employed the dopamine transporter-overexpressing (DAT-tg) rat model to investigate behavioral and neurobiological effects of frontal tDCS. The outcome of tDCS was pathology dependent, as anodal tDCS decreased repetitive behavior in the DAT-tg rats yet increased it in wild-type (wt) rats. Extensive deep brain stimulation (DBS) application and computational modeling assigned the response in DAT-tg rats to the sensorimotor pathway. Neurobiological assessment revealed cortical activity changes and increase in striatal inhibitory properties in the DAT-tg rats. Our findings show that tDCS reduces repetitive behavior in the DAT-tg rat through modulation of the sensorimotor STC circuit. This sets the stage for further investigating the usage of tDCS in repetitive disorders such as TS.