Brain-state determines learning improvements after tACS

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Brain-state determines learning improvements after transcranial alternating-current stimulation to frontal cortex.

Brain Stimul. 2018 Jul – Aug;11(4):723-726

Authors: Nguyen J, Deng Y, Reinhart RMG

BACKGROUND: Theories of executive control propose that communication between medial frontal cortex (MFC) and lateral prefrontal cortex (lPFC) is critical for learning. 6-Hz phase synchronization may be the mechanism by which neural activity between MFC and lPFC is coordinated into a functional network. Recent evidence suggests that switching from eyes closed to open may induce a change in brain-state reflected by enhanced executive control and related functional connectivity.
OBJECTIVE/HYPOTHESIS: To examine whether causal manipulation of MFC and lPFC can improve learning according to the brain-state induced by switching from eyes closed to open.
METHODS: Within-subjects, sham-controlled, double-blind study of 30 healthy subjects, each receiving 6-Hz in-phase high definition transcranial alternating-current stimulation (HD-tACS) applied to MFC and right lPFC prior to performing a time estimation task.
RESULTS: HD-tACS with eyes open improved learning ability relative to sham, whereas HD-tACS with eyes closed had no significant effect on behavior.
CONCLUSION: Results suggest a phase-sensitive mechanism in frontal cortex mediates components of learning performance in a state-dependent manner.

PMID: 29482970 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

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