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Publication Detail
Does excitatory fronto-extracerebral tDCS lead to improved working memory performance?
Evidence suggests that excitatory transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) may improve performance on a wide variety of cognitive tasks. Due to the non-invasive and inexpensive nature of the method, harnessing its potential could be particularly useful for the treatment of neuropsychiatric illnesses involving cognitive dysfunction. However, questions remain regarding the efficacious stimulation parameters. Here, using a double-blind between-subjects design, we explored whether 1 mA excitatory (anodal) left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex stimulation with a contralateral extracerebral reference electrode, leads to enhanced working memory performance across two days, relative to sham stimulation. Participants performed the 3-back, a test of working memory, at baseline, and during and immediately following stimulation on two days, separated by 24-48 hours. Active stimulation did not significantly enhance performance versus sham over the course of the experiment. However, exploratory comparisons did reveal a significant effect of stimulation group on performance during the first stimulation phase only, with active stimulation recipients performing better than sham. While these results do not support the hypothesis that dorsolateral prefrontal cortex tDCS boosts working memory, they raise the possibility that its effects may be greatest during early learning stages.
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