Differential effects of high-definition transcranial direct current stimulation on verbal working memory performance according to sensory modality.Neurosci Lett 2018; 687:131-136NL
Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is a non-invasive brain stimulation technique that modulates cortical excitability in a polarity-dependent manner. The diffuse nature of tDCS makes it difficult to investigate the optimal stimulation parameters for more effective and specific cognitive enhancement; to address this deficit, a more focalized stimulation technique, high-definition tDCS (HD-tDCS), has been developed. To date, only a few studies have examined the effects of HD-tDCS on cognitive functions; and none has investigated the effects of HD-tDCS on different sensory modalities of verbal working memory. Therefore, the present study compared the effects of prefrontal HD-tDCS on visual and auditory working memory tasks. Twenty healthy participants completed three sessions of each modality task, and additionally a sustained attention task. Anodal or sham HD-tDCS was administered to the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) during the second session of the task in a parallel, single-blind design. Anodal stimulation to the DLPFC significantly enhanced the visual verbal working memory accuracy during and 20 min after the stimulation. In contrast, auditory verbal working memory performance was not modulated by anodal stimulation. Anodal stimulation to the DLPFC showed no effect on any other cognitive functions. The present study revealed the differential effects of HD-tDCS on two different modalities (visual vs. auditory) of working memory performance: important preliminary findings for the establishment of a more effective and specific use of tDCS.