Cathodal transcranial direct-current stimulation over right posterior parietal cortex enhances human temporal discrimination ability.J Physiol Anthropol 2017; 36(1):41JP
Time perception associated with durations from 1 s to several minutes involves activity in the right posterior parietal cortex (rPPC). It is unclear whether altering the activity of the rPPC affects an individual's timing performance. Here, we investigated the human timing performance under the application of transcranial direct-current stimulation (tDCS) that altered the neural activities of the rPPC.
We measured the participants' duration-discrimination threshold by administering a behavioral task during the tDCS application. The tDCS conditions consisted of anodal, cathodal, and sham conditions. The electrodes were placed over the P4 position (10-20 system) and on the left supraorbital forehead. On each task trial, the participant observed two visual stimuli and indicated which was longer. The amount of difference between the two stimulus durations was varied repeatedly throughout the trials according to the participant's responses. The correct answer rate of the trials was calculated for each amount of difference, and the minimum amount with the correct answer rate exceeding 75% was selected as the threshold. The data were analyzed by a linear mixed-effects models procedure.
Nineteen volunteers participated in the experiment. We excluded three participants from the analysis: two who reported extreme sleepiness while performing the task and one who could recognize the sham condition correctly with confidence. Our analysis of the 16 participants' data showed that the average value of the thresholds observed under the cathodal condition was lower than that of the sham condition. This suggests that inhibition of the rPPC leads to an improvement in temporal discrimination performance, resulting in improved timing performance.
In the present study, we found a new effect that cathodal tDCS over the rPPC enhances temporal discrimination performance. In terms of the existence of anodal/cathodal tDCS effects on human timing performance, the results were consistent with a previous study that investigated temporal reproduction performance during tDCS application. However, the results of the current study further indicated that cathodal tDCS over the rPPC increases accuracy of observed time duration rather than inducing an overestimation as a previous study reported.