Modulation of dual-task control with right prefrontal transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS).Exp Brain Res. 2018 01; 236(1):227-241.EB
Executive functioning of two simultaneous component tasks in dual-task situations is primarily associated with activation of the lateral prefrontal cortex (PFC), as demonstrated in functional imaging studies. However, the precise role of the lateral PFC and the causal relation between this area's activity and executive functioning in dual tasks has exclusively been demonstrated for the left lateral PFC so far. To investigate this relation for the right lateral PFC, we used anodal transcranial direct current stimulation (atDCS; 1 mA, 20 min) in contrast to sham stimulation (1 mA, 30 s) in Experiment 1 (N = 30) as well as cathodal transcranial direct current stimulation (ctDCS; 1 mA, 20 min) in contrast to sham stimulation (1 mA, 30 s) in Experiment 2 (N = 25) over the right inferior frontal junction under conditions of random task order in dual tasks; random dual tasks require decisions on task order and thus high demands on executive functioning. Across these experiments, our results showed different tDCS-related effects: while atDCS improved performance evident from reduced error rates (Experiment 1), ctDCS impaired dual-task performance and increased these rates (Experiment 2). Moreover, baseline performance correlated with tDCS-induced performance changes, indicating that baseline performance was associated with atDCS-induced improvement. Our findings suggest that dual-task performance is causally related to right lateral PFC activation under conditions that require executive functioning as well as cognitive control of task sets and task order.