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Non invasive brain stimulation, physical exercise and reward system

Grant number: 14/10134-7
Support type:Scholarships abroad - Research Internship - Post-doctor
Effective date (Start): March 24, 2015
Effective date (End): July 31, 2015
Field of knowledge:Health Sciences - Medicine
Principal Investigator:Li Li Min
Grantee:Alexandre Hideki Okano
Supervisor abroad: Shinsuke Shimojo
Home Institution: Faculdade de Ciências Médicas (FCM). Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP). Campinas , SP, Brazil
Local de pesquisa : California Institute of Technology, United States  
Associated to the scholarship:13/10187-0 - Neuromodulation and brain regulation of physical exercise, BP.PD


The history of exercise science over the second half of the twentieth century is filled with spectacular triumphs but also some epic failures. The successes consist in discovering a wealth of scientific evidence supporting the beneficial effects of physical activity on health and raising the awareness not only of the medical community but also of the public at large. The failures are the result of the inability to raise the rates of physical activity participation, which remain discouragingly low in most industrialized countries. Researchers have been focused on the possible role played by exercise prescription guidelines and physical activity recommendations in these failures and put forth for considering pleasure as a fundamental criterion when exercise is prescribed or physical activity is recommended. An emerging literature now suggests that the pleasure experienced during bouts of physical activity predicts subsequent physical activity participation. Therefore, ensuring that exercise and physical activity are not just effective and safe but also pleasurable can increase the chances that these behaviors will become life-long habits. The occurrence of pleasure is coded by neural activity in many brain sites and the dopamine (DA) system in important to reward-processing. Dopamine (DA) is the predominant catecholamine neurotransmitter in the brain, and is synthesized by mesencephalic neurons in the substantia nigra (SN) and ventral tegmental area (VTA). Given that SN/VTA neurons lie deep within the brain, the primary means of influencing them have been with systematic pharmacological interventions or implantation of deep brain stimulators. In the last decades, noninvasive brain stimulation has been increasingly used by clinicians and neuroscientists to deliberately alter the status of the human brain. Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is considered a neuromodulatory intervention that induces excitability changes in the resting membrane potential. Although tDCS stimulates the cortical area directly beneath the electrode, it could also modulate subcortical structures as showed by fMRI and computational modeling.Recently, researchers from Caltech showed that tDCS can be used to induce remote changes of neural activity in the distally connected midbrain (SN and VTA) which directly effects behavior. These results inspired us to test if such increased midbrain dopaminergic functions, in response to anodal tDCS of frontal cortex, could increase the pleasure experienced during bouts of physical exercise. We hypothesized that excitatory/anodal and inhibitory/cathodal tDCS electrode placement over VMPFC and DLPFC, respectively, would result in the remote activation of the ventral midbrain measured by fMRI and that this remote activation would manifest behaviorally as increases in participants' pleasure sensation during physical exercise. (AU)

Scientific publications
(References retrieved automatically from Web of Science and SciELO through information on FAPESP grants and their corresponding numbers as mentioned in the publications by the authors)
MACHADO, DANIEL G. DA S.; UNAL, GOZDE; ANDRADE, SUELLEN M.; MOREIRA, ALEXANDRE; ALTIMARI, LEANDRO R.; BRUNONI, ANDRE R.; PERREY, STEPHANE; MAUGER, ALEXIS R.; BIKSON, MAROM; OKANO, ALEXANDRE H. Effect of transcranial direct current stimulation on exercise performance: A systematic review and meta-analysis. BRAIN STIMULATION, v. 12, n. 3, p. 593-605, MAY-JUN 2019. Web of Science Citations: 3.

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