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Papers of the Week

Papers: 25 Nov 2023 - 1 Dec 2023

2023 Nov 27

Sci Rep




Anodal transcutaneous spinal direct current stimulation influences the amplitude of pain-related evoked potentials in healthy subjects.


Eberhardt F, Enax-Krumova E, Tegenthoff M, Höffken O, Özgül ÖS


It has already been described that transcutaneous spinal direct current stimulation (tsDCS) can selectively influence nociceptive evoked potentials. This study is the first aiming to prove an influence of tsDCS on pain-related evoked potentials (PREP) using concentric surface electrodes (CE), whose nociceptive specificity is still under discussion. 28 healthy subjects participated in this sham-controlled, double-blind cross-over study. All subjects underwent one session of anodal and one session of sham low-thoracic tsDCS. Before and after the intervention, PREP using CE, PREP-induced pain perception and somatosensory evoked potentials (SEP) were assessed on the right upper and lower limb. We found a decrease in PREP amplitude at the lower limb after sham stimulation, but not after anodal tsDCS, while SEP remained unchanged under all studied conditions. There was no difference between the effects of anodal tsDCS and sham stimulation on the studied parameters assessed at the upper limb. PREP-induced pain of the upper and lower limb increased after anodal tsDCS. The ability of influencing PREP using a CE at the spinal level in contrast to SEP suggests that PREP using CE follows the spinothalamic pathway and supports the assumption that it is specifically nociceptive. However, while mainly inhibitory effects on nociceptive stimuli have already been described, our results rather suggest that anodal tsDCS has a sensitizing effect. This may indicate that the mechanisms underlying the elicitation of PREP with CE are not the same as for the other nociceptive evoked potentials. The effects on the processing of different types of painful stimuli should be directly compared in future studies.