Enhancing Working Memory Training with Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation.J Cogn Neurosci. 2016 Sep; 28(9):1419-32.JC
Working memory (WM) is a fundamental cognitive ability that supports complex thought but is limited in capacity. Thus, WM training interventions have become very popular as a means of potentially improving WM-related skills. Another promising intervention that has gained increasing traction in recent years is transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), a noninvasive form of brain stimulation that can modulate cortical excitability and temporarily increase brain plasticity. As such, it has the potential to boost learning and enhance performance on cognitive tasks. This study assessed the efficacy of tDCS to supplement WM training. Sixty-two participants were randomized to receive either right prefrontal, left prefrontal, or sham stimulation with concurrent visuospatial WM training over the course of seven training sessions. Results showed that tDCS enhanced training performance, which was strikingly preserved several months after training completion. Furthermore, we observed stronger effects when tDCS was spaced over a weekend break relative to consecutive daily training, and we also demonstrated selective transfer in the right prefrontal group to nontrained tasks of visual and spatial WM. These findings shed light on how tDCS may be leveraged as a tool to enhance performance on WM-intensive learning tasks.