tDCS Strength tDCS Determines Working memory

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Electric Field Strength From Prefrontal Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation Determines Degree of Working Memory Response: A Potential Application of Reverse-Calculation Modeling?

BACKGROUND: Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) for working memory is an enticing treatment, but there is mixed evidence to date.
OBJECTIVES: We tested the effects of electric field strength from uniform 2 mA dosing on working memory change from prestimulation to poststimulation. Second, we statistically evaluated a reverse-calculation method of individualizing tDCS dose and its effect on normalizing electric field at the cortex.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: We performed electric field modeling on a dataset of 28 healthy older adults (15 women, mean age = 73.7, SD = 7.3) who received ten sessions of active 2 mA tDCS (N = 14) or sham tDCS (N = 14) applied over bilateral dorsolateral prefrontal cortices (DLPFC) in a triple-blind design. We evaluated the relationship between electric field strength and working memory change on an N-back task in conditions of above-median, high electric field from active 2 mA (N = 7), below-median, low electric field from active 2 mA (N = 7), and sham (N = 14) at regions of interest (ROI) at the left and right DLPFC. We then determined the individualized reverse-calculation dose to produce the group average electric field and measured the electric field variance between uniform 2 mA doses vs. individualized reverse-calculation doses at the same ROIs.
RESULTS: Working memory improvements from pre- to post-tDCS were significant for the above-median electric field from active 2 mA condition at the left DLPFC (mixed ANOVA, p = 0.013). Furthermore, reverse-calculation modeling significantly reduced electric field variance at both ROIs (Levene’s test; p < 0.001).
CONCLUSIONS: Higher electric fields at the left DLPFC from uniform 2 mA doses appear to drive working memory improvements from tDCS. Individualized doses from reverse-calculation modeling significantly reduce electric field variance at the cortex. Taken together, using reverse-calculation modeling to produce the same, high electric fields at the cortex across participants may produce more effective future tDCS treatments for working memory.

PMID: 33314502 [PubMed – as supplied by publisher]

Neuromodulation. 2020 Dec 14;:

Authors: Caulfield KA, Indahlastari A, Nissim NR, Lopez JW, Fleischmann HH, Woods AJ, George MS