Enhancement of pain inhibition by working memory with anodal transcranial direct current stimulation of the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex.J Physiol Sci 2018; 68(6):825-836JP
The aim of this study was to examine whether transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) enhances pain inhibition by improving working memory (WM). Forty healthy volunteers participated in two tDCS sessions. Pain was evoked by electrical stimulation at the ankle. Participants performed an n-back task (0-back and 2-back). The experimental protocol comprised five counterbalanced conditions (0-back, 2-back, pain, 0-back with pain and 2-back with pain) that were performed twice (pre-tDCS baseline and during tDCS). Compared with the pre-tDCS baseline values, anodal tDCS decreased response times for the 2-back condition (p < 0.01) but not for the 0-back condition (p > 0.5). Anodal tDCS also decreased pain ratings marginally in the 2-back with pain condition, but not the 0-back with pain condition (p = 0.052 and p > 0.2, respectively). No effect was produced by sham tDCS for any condition (p > 0.2). These results indicate that tDCS of the left DLPFC may enhance pain inhibition by improving WM.