Dissertations and Theses

Date of Award


Document Type



Biomedical Engineering


Electrical Stimulation, Neuromodulation, Translational Neurophysiology


"Noninvasive electrical stimulation techniques like transcranial direct currents stimulation (tDCS) have been demonstrated to modulate neural function. Weak constant current is applied via scalp electrodes leading to subthreshold changes in neuron membrane potentials. Neuromodulation of the cortex using direct current (DC) stimulation may be a viable treatment for neurological disorders, enhancing cognitive function as well as facilitating neural plasticity. Theoretically, tDCS can employ many electrodes montages to emphasize directionality, focality, or intensity (Datta 2008, 2009, Dmochowski 2011) but what remains unclear is how these parameters influence cortical neurons considering their orientation and the local synaptic circuit in the region of interest. The aim of this thesis is to establish the framework for further investigation in modulating synaptic potentiation using direct current in the context of clinically relevant techniques, like tDCS. Mechanistic studies of electric field effects on neuronal ensembles first require electrophysiological characterization of a target brain region, such as the primary motor cortex that is involved in motor rehabilitation. Furthermore, when considering synaptic effects, it is important to consider local and regional synaptic circuits. Using experimental techniques this thesis establishes the parameter space for studying DC field effects on synaptic plasticity in the rat primary motor cortex."



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