High-Definition Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation Improves Verb Recovery in Aphasic Patients Depending on Current Intensity

Valentina Fiori, Michael A. Nitsche, Gabriella Cucuzza, Carlo Caltagirone, Paola Marangolo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


High-definition transcranial direct current stimulation (HD-tDCS) is a variant of tDCS, which produces more focal stimulation, delimiting brain current flow to a defined region compared to conventional tDCS. To date, only one study has been conducted to investigate HD-tDCS effects on language recovery in aphasia. Here, we aimed to assess the effects of cathodal HD-tDCS on verb naming by comparing two current intensities: 1 vs 2 mA. In a double-blinded cross over study, two groups of 10 aphasic individuals were submitted to active cathodal HD-tDCS and sham stimulation over the right homolog of Broca's area, while performing a verb naming task. Indeed, we reasoned that, by applying inhibitory current over the right Broca's area, we would decrease the inhibitory impact from the right hemisphere to the left perilesional cortex, thus boosting language recovery. The groups differed in the intensity of the active stimulation (1 mA or 2 mA). In both groups, each condition was carried out in five consecutive daily sessions with one week of interval between the two experimental conditions. A significant improvement in verb naming was found only after cathodal HD-tDCS at 2 mA, which endured one week after the end of treatment. The improvement was not observed on the group receiving cathodal HD-tDCS at 1 mA. Our findings showed that HD-tDCS applied to the right intact hemisphere are efficacious for language recovery. These results indicate that HD-tDCS represents a promising new technique for language rehabilitation. However, systematic determination of stimulation intensity appears to be crucial for obtaining relevant effects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)159-166
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - May 15 2019


  • aphasia recovery
  • current intensity
  • high-definition electrodes (HD)
  • neuromodulation
  • tDCS
  • verb treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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