Dopamine release under tDCS governs enhanced attention

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Endogenous dopamine release under transcranial direct-current stimulation governs enhanced attention: a study with positron emission tomography.

Transl Psychiatry. 2019 Mar 15;9(1):115

Authors: Fukai M, Bunai T, Hirosawa T, Kikuchi M, Ito S, Minabe Y, Ouchi Y

Transcranial direct-current stimulation (tDCS) to the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) has been established as an effective and noninvasive method to modulate cognitive function. Nevertheless, the mechanisms causing those cognitive changes under the tDCS remain largely unknown. We strove to elucidate the cognito-biological relation under the tDCS condition by examining whether the dopamine system activated by tDCS is involved in cognitive changes in human participants, or not. To evaluate the dopamine system, we used [11C]-raclopride positron emission tomography (PET) scanning: 20 healthy men underwent two [11C]-raclopride PET scans and subsequent neuropsychological tests. One scan was conducted after tDCS to the DLPFC. One was conducted after sham stimulation (control). Results of [11C]-raclopride PET measurements demonstrate that tDCS to the DLPFC caused dopamine release in the right ventral striatum. Neuropsychological tests for attentiveness revealed that tDCS to the DLPFC-enhanced participants’ accuracy. Moreover, this effect was correlated significantly with dopamine release. This finding provides clinico-biological evidence, demonstrating that enhancement of dopamine signaling by tDCS in the ventral striatum is associated with attention enhancement.

PMID: 30877269 [PubMed – in process]

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