Spinal or cortical direct current stimulation: Which is the best? Evidence from apraxia of speech in post-stroke aphasia

Francesca Pisano, Carlo Caltagirone, Chiara Incoccia, Paola Marangolo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


To date, new advances in technology have already shown the effectiveness of non-invasive brain stimulation and, in particular, of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), in enhancing language recovery in post-stroke aphasia. More recently, it has been suggested that the stimulation over the spinal cord improves the production of words associated to sensorimotor schemata, such as action verbs. Here, for the first time, we present evidence that transpinal direct current stimulation (tsDCS) combined with a language training is efficacious for the recovery from speech apraxia, a motor speech disorder which might co-occur with aphasia. In a randomized-double blind experiment, ten aphasics underwent five days of tsDCS with concomitant treatment for their articulatory deficits in two different conditions: anodal and sham. In all patients, language measures were collected before (T0), at the end (T5) and one week after the end of treatment (F/U). Results showed that only after anodal tsDCS patients exhibited a better accuracy in repeating the treated items. Moreover, these effects persisted at F/U and generalized to other oral language tasks (i.e. picture description, noun and verb naming, word repetition and reading). A further analysis, which compared the tsDCS results with those collected in a matched group of patients who underwent the same language treatment but combined with tDCS, revealed no differences between the two groups. Given the persistency and severity of articulatory deficits in aphasia and the ease of use of tsDCS, we believe that spinal stimulation might result a new innovative approach for language rehabilitation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number113019
JournalBehavioural Brain Research
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Apraxia of speech
  • Language recovery
  • Neuromodulation
  • Transpinal stimulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'Spinal or cortical direct current stimulation: Which is the best? Evidence from apraxia of speech in post-stroke aphasia'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this