Access to consciousness of briefly presented visual events is modulated by transcranial direct current stimulation of left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex.
ABSTRACT: Adaptive behaviour requires the ability to process goal-relevant events at the expense of irrelevant ones. However, perception of a relevant visual event can transiently preclude access to consciousness of subsequent events - a phenomenon called attentional blink (AB). Here we investigated involvement of the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) in conscious access, by using transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) to potentiate or reduce neural excitability in the context of an AB task. In a sham-controlled experimental design, we applied between groups anodal or cathodal tDCS over the left DLPFC, and examined whether this stimulation modulated the proportion of stimuli that were consciously reported during the AB period. We found that tDCS over the left DLPFC affected the proportion of consciously perceived target stimuli. Moreover, anodal and cathodal tDCS had opposing effects, and exhibited different temporal patterns. Anodal stimulation attenuated the AB, enhancing conscious report earlier in the AB period. Cathodal stimulation accentuated the AB, reducing conscious report later in the AB period. These findings support the notion that the DLPFC plays a role in facilitating information transition from the unconscious to the conscious stage of processing.
Project description:People with anxiety disorders show an attentional bias for threat (AB), and Attention Bias Modification (ABM) procedures have been found to reduce this bias. However, the underlying processes accounting for this effect remain poorly understood. One explanation suggests that ABM requires the modification of attention control, driven by the recruitment of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC). In the present double-blind study, we examined whether modifying left DLPFC activation influences the effect of ABM on AB. We used transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) to directly modulate cortical excitability of the left DLPFC during an ABM procedure designed to reduce AB to threat. Anodal tDCS increases excitability, whereas cathodal tDCS decreases it. We randomly assigned highly trait-anxious individuals to one of three conditions: 1) ABM combined with cathodal tDCS, 2) ABM combined with anodal tDCS, or 3) ABM combined with sham tDCS. We assessed the effects of these manipulations on both reaction times and eye-movements on a task indexing AB. Results indicate that combining ABM and anodal tDCS over the left DLPFC reduces the total duration that participants' gaze remains fixated on threat, as assessed using eye-tracking measurement. However, in contrast to previous studies, there were no changes in AB from baseline to post-training for participants that received ABM without tDCS. As the tendency to maintain attention to threat is known to play an important role in the maintenance of anxiety, the present findings suggest that anodal tDCS over the left DLPFC may be considered as a promising tool to reduce the maintenance of gaze to threat. Implications for future translational research combining ABM and tDCS are discussed.
Project description:OBJECTIVES:Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) has demonstrated some efficacy in treatment-resistant major depression (TRD). The majority of previous controlled studies have used anodal stimulation to the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) and a control location such as the supraorbital region for the cathode. Several open-label studies have suggested effectiveness from anodal stimulation to the left DLPFC combined with cathodal stimulation to the right DLPFC. Thus, this study evaluated the efficacy of tDCS using anodal stimulation to the left DLPFC and cathodal stimulation to the right DLPFC compared to sham tDCS. METHODS:Subjects between the ages of 18 and 65 were recruited from a tertiary care university hospital. Twenty-four subjects with TRD and a 17-item Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression greater than 21 were randomized to receive tDCS or sham tDCS. The rates of remission were compared between the two treatment groups. RESULTS:The remission rates did not differ significantly between the two groups using an intention to treat analysis. More subjects in the active tDCS group had failed a course of electroconvulsive therapy in the current depressive episode. Side effects did not differ between the two groups and in general the treatment was very well tolerated. CONCLUSION:Anodal stimulation to the left DLPFC and cathodal stimulation to the right DLPFC was not efficacious in TRD. However, a number of methodological limitations warrant caution in generalizing from this study. Ongoing, controlled studies should provide further clarification on the efficacy of this stimulation configuration in TRD. ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT01078948.
Project description:Many studies have discussed the neural basis of asset bubbles. They found that the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) played an important role in bubble formation, but whether a causal relationship exists and the mechanism of the effect of the DLPFC on bubbles remains unsettled. Using transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), we modulated the activity of the DLPFC and investigated the causal relationship between the DLPFC and the asset bubble in the classical learning-to-forecast experiment. 126 subjects were randomly divided into three groups and received different stimulations (left anodal/right cathodal, right anodal/left cathodal, or sham stimulation), respectively. We also conducted a 2-back task before and after stimulation to measure changes in subjects' cognitive abilities and explore in detail the cognitive mechanism of the effect of DLPFC stimulation on asset bubbles. Based on our results, we found that the bubble of the left anodal/right cathodal stimulation group was significantly smaller than that of the sham stimulation group. In the meantime, subjects performed significantly better in the 2-back task after left anodal/right cathodal stimulation but not right anodal/left cathodal or sham stimulation, which is consistent with their performance in the learning-to-forecast experiment, supporting the cognitive mechanism to some extent. Furthermore, we examined different forecasting rules across individuals and discovered that the left anodal/right cathodal stimulation group preferred the adaptive learning rule, while the sham and right anodal/left cathodal stimulation groups adopted a pure trend-following rule that tended to intensify market volatility aggressively.
Project description:Recent neurofunctional studies suggested that lateral prefrontal cortex is a domain-general cognitive control area modulating computation of social information. Neuropsychological evidence reported dissociations between cognitive and affective components of social cognition. Here, we tested whether performance on social cognitive and affective tasks can be modulated by transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) over dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC). To this aim, we compared the effects of tDCS on explicit recognition of emotional facial expressions (affective task), and on one cognitive task assessing the ability to adopt another person's visual perspective. In a randomized, cross-over design, male and female healthy participants performed the two experimental tasks after bi-hemispheric tDCS (sham, left anodal/right cathodal, and right anodal/left cathodal) applied over DLPFC. Results showed that only in male participants explicit recognition of fearful facial expressions was significantly faster after anodal right/cathodal left stimulation with respect to anodal left/cathodal right and sham stimulations. In the visual perspective taking task, instead, anodal right/cathodal left stimulation negatively affected both male and female participants' tendency to adopt another's point of view. These findings demonstrated that concurrent facilitation of right and inhibition of left lateral prefrontal cortex can speed-up males' responses to threatening faces whereas it interferes with the ability to adopt another's viewpoint independently from gender. Thus, stimulation of cognitive control areas can lead to different effects on social cognitive skills depending on the affective vs. cognitive nature of the task, and on the gender-related differences in neural organization of emotion processing.
Project description:Humans often face situations requiring a decision about where to throw an object or when to respond to a stimulus under risk. Several behavioral studies have shown that such motor decisions can be suboptimal, which results from a cognitive bias toward risk-seeking behavior. However, brain regions involved in risk-attitude of motor decision-making remain unclear. Here, we investigated the role of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) in risky motor decisions using transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS). The experiment comprised a selective timing task requiring participants to make a continuous decision about the timing of their response under the risk of no rewards. The participants performed this task twice in a day: before and while receiving either anodal stimulation over the right DLPFC with cathodal stimulation over the left DLPFC (20 min, 2 mA), cathodal stimulation over the right DLPFC with anodal stimulation over the left DLPFC, or sham stimulation. In line with previous studies, their strategies before the stimulation were biased toward risk-seeking. During anodal stimulation over right DLPFC with cathodal stimulation over left DLPFC, participants showed a more conservative strategy to avoid the risk of no rewards. The additional experiment confirmed that tDCS did not affect the ability of timing control regarding the time intervals at which they aimed to respond. These results suggest a potential role for the DLPFC in modulating action selection in motor decision-making under risk.
Project description:Working memory (WM) often is impaired in autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Such impairment may underlie core deficits in cognition and social functioning. Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) has been shown to enhance WM in both healthy adults and clinical populations, but its efficacy in ASD is unknown. We predicted that bifrontal tDCS would improve WM performances of adults with high-functioning autism during active stimulation compared to sham stimulation and that such enhancement would generalize to an untrained task.Twelve adults with high-functioning ASD engaged in a battery of WM tasks that included backward spatial span, backward digit span, spatial n-back and letter n-back. While engaged, 40 min of 1.5 mA bifrontal stimulation was applied over the left and the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortices (DLPFC). Using a single-blind crossover design, each participant received left anodal/right cathodal stimulation, right anodal/left cathodal stimulation, or sham stimulation, in randomized counterbalanced order on three separate days. Following tDCS, participants again engaged in letter and spatial n-back tasks before taking the Brief Test of Attention (BTA). We used repeated-measures ANOVA to compare overall performance on the WM battery as measured by a composite of z-scores for all five measures. Post hoc ANOVAs, t tests, Friedman's tests, and Wilcoxon signed-rank tests were used to measure the online and offline effects of tDCS and to assess performances on individual measures.Compared to sham stimulation, both left DLPFC anodal stimulation (t11 = 5.4, p = 0.0002) and right DLPFC anodal stimulation (t11 = 3.57, p = 0.004) improved overall WM performance. Left anodal stimulation (t11 = 3.9, p = 0.003) and right anodal stimulation (t11 = 2.7, p = 0.019) enhanced performances during stimulation. Enhancement transferred to an untrained task 50 min after right anodal stimulation (z11 = 2.263, p = 0.024). The tasks that showed the largest effects of active stimulation were spatial span backward (z11 = 2.39, p = 0.017) and BTA (z11 = 2.263, p = 0.024).In adults with high-functioning ASD, active bifrontal tDCS given during WM tasks appears to improve performance. TDCS benefits also transferred to an untrained task completed shortly after stimulation. These results suggest that tDCS can improve WM task performance and could reduce some core deficits of autism.NCT01602263.
Project description:The dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) is generally thought to be involved in affect and emotional processing; however, the specific contribution of each hemisphere continues to be debated. In the present study, we employed unilateral tDCS to test the unique contribution of left DLPFC in the encoding and retrieval of emotional stimuli in healthy subjects. Forty-two right handed undergraduate students received either anodal, cathodal or sham stimulation of left DLPFC while viewing neutral, pleasant, and unpleasant pictures. After completing a filler task, participants were asked to remember as many pictures as possible. Results showed that participants were able to remember a larger amount of emotional (both pleasant and unpleasant) pictures than of neutral ones, regardless of the type of tDCS condition. Participants who received anodal stimulation recalled a significantly higher number of pleasant images than participants in the sham and cathodal conditions, while no differences emerged in the recall of neutral and unpleasant pictures. We conclude that our results provide some support to the role of left prefrontal cortex in the encoding and retrieval of pleasant stimuli.
Project description:Cognitive models posit that social anxiety disorder (SAD) is associated with and maintained by attentional bias (AB) for social threat. However, over the last years, it has been suggested that AB in SAD may result from a decreased activation of the left prefrontal cortex, and particularly of its dorsolateral part (dlPFC). Accordingly, a transient increase of neural activity within the left dlPFC via non-invasive brain stimulation decreases AB in non-anxious control participants. Yet, none of these studies focused on SAD. This is especially unfortunate as SAD constitutes the main target for which a genuine reduction of AB may be most appropriate. In this experiment, we sought to investigate the causal influence of left dlPFC neuromodulation on AB among 19 female individuals with a DSM-5 diagnosis of SAD. We adopted a double-blind within-subject protocol in which we delivered a single-session of anodal versus sham transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) over the left dlPFC during the completion of a probe discrimination task assessing AB. Consistent with our hypothesis, participants demonstrated a significant decrease in AB during the anodal tDCS over the left DLPFC relative to the sham stimulation. These findings value tDCS as an innovative procedure to gain new insight into the underlying mechanisms of SAD.
Project description:Attitude to morality, reflecting cultural norms and values, is considered unique to human social behavior. Resulting moral behavior in a social environment is controlled by a widespread neural network including the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), which plays an important role in decision making. In the present study we investigate the influence of neurophysiological modulation of DLPFC reactivity by means of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) on moral reasoning. For that purpose we administered anodal, cathodal, and sham stimulation of the left DLPFC while subjects judged the appropriateness of hard moral personal dilemmas. In contrast to sham and cathodal stimulation, anodal stimulation induced a shift in judgment of personal moral dilemmas towards more non-utilitarian actions. Our results demonstrate that alterations of left DLPFC activity can change moral judgments and, in consequence, provide a causal link between left DLPFC activity and moral reasoning. Most important, the observed shift towards non-utilitarian actions suggests that moral decision making is not a permanent individual trait but can be manipulated; consequently individuals with boundless, uncontrollable, and maladaptive moral behavior, such as found in psychopathy, might benefit from neuromodulation-based approaches.
Project description:Background:Working memory, as a complex system, consists of two independent components: manipulation and maintenance process, which are defined as executive control and storage process. Previous studies mainly focused on the overall effect of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) on working memory. However, little has been known about the segregative effects of tDCS on the sub-processes within working memory. Method:Transcranial direct current stimulation, as one of the non-invasive brain stimulation techniques, is being widely used to modulate the cortical activation of local brain areas. This study modified a spatial n-back experiment with anodal and cathodal tDCS exertion on the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), aiming to investigate the effects of tDCS on the two sub-processes of working memory: manipulation (updating) and maintenance. Meanwhile, considering the separability of tDCS effects, we further reconfirmed the causal relationship between the right DLPFC and the sub-processes of working memory with different tDCS conditions. Results:The present study showed that cathodal tDCS on the right DLPFC selectively improved the performance of the modified 2-back task in the difficult condition, whereas anodal tDCS significantly reduced the performance of subjects and showed an speeding-up tendency of response time. More precisely, the results of discriminability index and criterion showed that only cathodal tDCS enhanced the performance of maintenance in the difficult condition. Neither of the two tDCS conditions affected the performance of manipulation (updating). Conclusion:These findings provide evidence that cathodal tDCS of the right DLPFC selectively affects maintenance capacity. Besides, cathodal tDCS also serves as an interference suppressor to reduce the irrelevant interference, thereby indirectly improving the working memory capacity. Moreover, the right DLPFC is not the unique brain regions for working memory manipulation (updating).