Brain neural networks undergo relevant changes during physiological aging, which affect cognitive and behavioral functions. Currently, non-invasive brain stimulation techniques, such as transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), are proposed as tools able to modulate cognitive functions in brain aging, acting on networks properties and connectivity. Segregation and integration measures are used and evaluated by means of local clustering (segregation) and path length (integration). Moreover, to assess the balancing between them, the Small World (SW) parameter is employed, evaluating functional coupling in normal brain aging and in pathological conditions including neurodegeneration. The aim of this study was to systematically investigate the tDCS-induced effects on brain network proprieties in physiological aging. In order to reach this aim, cortical activity was acquired from healthy young and elderly subjects by means of EEG recorded before, during, and after anodal, cathodal, and sham tDCS sessions. Specifically, the aim to exploring tDCS polarity-dependent changes in the age-dependent network dynamics was based on a network graph theory application on two groups divided in young and elderly subjects. Eighteen healthy young (9 females; mean age = 24.7, SD = 3.2) and fifteen elderly subjects (9 females; mean = 70.1, SD = 5.1) were enrolled. Each participant received anodal, cathodal, or sham tDCS over the left prefrontal cortex (PFC) in three separate experimental sessions performed 1 week apart. SW was computed to evaluate brain network organization. The present study demonstrates that tDCS delivered in PFC can change brain network dynamics, and tDCS-EEG coregistration data can be analyzed using graph theory to understand the induced effects of different tDCS polarities in physiological and pathological brain aging.
- Functional connectivity
- Graph theory-EEG