Dr. Cunningham’s research is focused on improving rehabilitative outcomes for patients with chronic post-stroke hemiplegia by employing methods of non-invasive brain stimulation (repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation and transcranial direct current stimulation).

His expertise in these methods in conjunction with neuroimaging techniques (functional MRI, resting state MRI, diffusion tensor imaging) and single pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation allows him to study neurophysiologic adaptations as a result of injury as well as recovery. At MetroHealth-CWRU, Dr. Cunningham is currently developing multi-modal approaches for post-stroke motor restoration that combines non-invasive brain stimulation and functional electrical stimulation.

Publications (Select)

Entire publication list can be found here.

Cunningham DA, Knutson JS, Sankarasubramanian V, Potter-Baker KA, Machado AG, Plow EB. Bilateral contralaterally controlled functional electrical stimulation reveals new insights into the interhemispheric competition model in chronic stroke. Neurorehabil Neural Repair. 2019; 33(9): 707-717. doi: 10.1177/1545968319863709.

Cunningham DA, Lin YL, Potter-Baker KA, Knutson JS, Plow EB. Chapter 18: Efficacy of noninvasive brain stimulation for motor rehabilitation after stroke. In Stroke Rehabilitation (1st ed.), Elsevier B.V. ISBN 9780323553810. 

Cunningham DA, Roelle SM, Allexandre D, Potter-Baker KA, Sankarasubramanian V, Knutson JS, Yue G, Machado AG, Plow EB. The effect of motor overflow on bimanual asymmetric force coordination. Experimental Brain Research. 2017; 235(4): 1097-1105. doi: 10.1007/s00221-016-4867-2.

Cunningham DA. Non-invasive brain stimulation enhances sustained muscle contraction by reducing neuromuscular fatigue: Implications for rehabilitation. Journal of Neurophysiology 2017; 117(3): 1215-1217. doi: 10.1152/jn.00468.2016.

Sankarasubramanian V, Cunningham DA, Potter-Baker KA, Beall EB, Roelle SM, Varnerin NM, Machado AG, Jones SE, Lowe MJ, Plow EB. "Transcranial direct current stimulation targeting primary motor vs. dorsolateral prefrontal cortices: proof-of-concept study investigating functional connectivity of thalamo-cortical networks specific to sensory-affective information processing". Brain Connectivity. 2017. Brain Connect. 2017 Apr;7(3):182-196. doi: 10.1089/brain.2016.0440

Cunningham DA, Janini D, Wyant A, Bonnett C, Varnerin V, Sankarsubramanian V, Potter-Baker KA, Roelle S, Wang X, Siemionow V, Yue GH, Plow EB. Post-exercise depression following submaximal and maximal isometric voluntary contraction. Neuroscience. 2016;(326):95-104. doi:10.1016/j.neuroscience.2016.03.060.

Cunningham DA, Potter-Baker KA, Knutson JS, Sankarasubramanian V, Machado A, Plow EB. Tailoring brain stimulation to the nature of rehabilitative therapies in stroke – a conceptual framework based on their unique mechanisms of recovery. Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation Clinics of North America 2015; 26(4):759-74.

Cunningham DA, Varnerin N, Machado A, Bonnett C, Janini D, Roelle S, Potter-Baker P, Sankarasubramanian V, Wang X, Yue G, Plow EB. Stimulation targeting higher motor areas in stroke rehabilitation: A proof-of-concept, randomized, double-blinded placebo-controlled study of effectiveness and underlying mechanisms. Restorative Neurology and Neuroscience. 2015; 20:33(6):911-26.

Page S, Cunningham DA, Plow EB. It Takes Two: Noninvasive Brain Stimulation Combined With Neurorehabilitation. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehab 2015; 96(4 Suppl):S89-93.

Plow EB, Cunningham DA, Varnerin N, Machado A. Rethinking stimulation of brain in stroke rehabilitation: Why higher-motor areas might be useful alternatives. The Neuroscientist 2014; 21(3):225-40.

Cunningham DA, Machado A, Janini D, Varnerin N, Bonnett C, Yue G, Jones S, Lowe M, Beall E, Sakaie K, Plow EB. The Assessment of Inter-Hemispheric Imbalance using Imaging and Non-Invasive Brain Stimulation in Patients with Chronic Stroke. Archives of physical medicine and rehabilitation 2014; 96(4 Suppl):S94-103

Plow EB, Cunningham DA, Bonnett C, Gohar D, Bayram M, Wyant A, Varnerin N, Mamone B, Siemionow V, Hou J, Machado A, Yue GH. Neurophysiological correlates of aging-related muscle weakness. Journal of neurophysiology 2013;110(11):2563-73.

Cunningham DA, Machado A, Yue GH, Carey JR, Plow EB. Functional somatotopy revealed across multiple cortical regions using a model of complex motor task. Brain Res 2013;1531:25-36.


Cleveland FES Center

Assistant Professor, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University

Assistant Professor, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
MetroHealth Rehabilitation Institute


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David Cunningham, PhD

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