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The effect of bipolar bihemispheric tDCS on executive function and working memory abilities

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posted on 2024-02-02, 11:05 authored by Adam TothAdam Toth, Cliodhna Harvey, Hannah Gullane, Niall KellyNiall Kelly, Adam BrutonAdam Bruton, Mark CampbellMark Campbell

Introduction: Cognitive functioning is central to the ability to learn, problem solve, remember, and use information in a rapid and accurate manner and cognitive abilities are fundamental for communication, autonomy, and quality of life. Transcranial electric stimulation (tES) is a very promising tool shown to improve various motor and cognitive functions. When applied as a direct current stimulus (transcranial direct current stimulation; tDCS) over the dorsolateral pre-frontal cortex (DLPFC), this form of neurostimulation has mixed results regarding its ability to slow cognitive deterioration and potentially enhance cognitive functioning, requiring further investigation. This study set out to comprehensively investigate the effect that anodal and cathodal bipolar bihemispheric tDCS have on executive function and working memory abilities. Methods: 72 healthy young adults were recruited, and each participant was randomly allocated to either a control group (CON), a placebo group (SHAM) or one of two neurostimulation groups (Anodal; A-STIM and Cathodal; C-STIM). All participants undertook cognitive tests (Stroop & N Back) before and after a 30-minute stimulation/ sham/ control protocol. Results: Overall, our results add further evidence that tDCS may not be as efficacious for enhancing cognitive functioning as it has been shown to be for enhancing motor learning when applied over M1. We also provide evidence that the effect of neurostimulation on cognitive functioning may be moderated by sex, with males demonstrating a benefit from both anodal and cathodal stimulation when considering performance on simple attention trial types within the Stroop task. Discussion: Considering this finding, we propose a new avenue for tDCS research, that the potential that sex may moderate the efficacy of neurostimulation on cognitive functioning.



Frontiers in Psychology 14, 1275878



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