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No Effects of Stimulating the Left Ventrolateral Prefrontal Cortex with tDCS on Verbal Working Memory Updating

Karolina M Lukasik, Minna Lehtonen, Juha Salmi, Marcus Meinzer, Juho Joutsa, Matti Laine
Frontiers in Neuroscience 2017, 11: 738
29379410
The effects of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) on dorsolateral prefrontal cortex functions, such as working memory (WM), have been examined in a number of studies. However, much less is known about the behavioral effects of tDCS over other important WM-related brain regions, such as the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (VLPFC). In a counterbalanced within-subjects design with 33 young healthy participants, we examined whether online and offline single-session tDCS over VLPFC affects WM updating performance as measured by a digit 3-back task. We compared three conditions: anodal, cathodal and sham. We observed no significant tDCS effects on participants' accuracy or reaction times during or after the stimulation. Neither did we find any differences between anodal and cathodal stimulation. Largely similar results were obtained when comparing subgroups of high- and low-performing participants. Possible reasons for the lack of effects, including individual differences in responsiveness to tDCS, features of montage, task and sample characteristics, and the role of VLPFC in WM, are discussed.

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