Effects of in-Scanner Bilateral Frontal tDCS on Functional Connectivity of the Working Memory Network in Older Adults.

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Effects of in-Scanner Bilateral Frontal tDCS on Functional Connectivity of the Working Memory Network in Older Adults.

Front Aging Neurosci. 2019;11:51

Authors: Nissim NR, O’Shea A, Indahlastari A, Telles R, Richards L, Porges E, Cohen R, Woods AJ

Abstract
Working memory is an executive memory process essential for everyday decision-making and problem solving that declines with advanced age. Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is a non-invasive form of brain stimulation that has demonstrated potential for improving working memory performance in older adults. However, the neural mechanisms underlying effects of tDCS on working memory are not well understood. This mechanistic study investigated the acute and after-effects of bilateral frontal (F3/F4) tDCS at 2 mA for 12-min on functional connectivity of the working memory network in older adults. We hypothesized active tDCS over sham would increase frontal connectivity during working memory performance. The study used a double-blind within-subject 2 session crossover design. Participants performed an functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) N-Back working memory task before, during, and after active or sham stimulation. Functional connectivity of the working memory network was assessed within and between stimulation conditions (FDR < 0.05). Active tDCS produced a significant increase in functional connectivity between left ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (VLPFC) and left dorsolateral PFC (DLPFC) during stimulation, but not after stimulation. Connectivity did not significantly increase with sham stimulation. In addition, our data demonstrated both state-dependent and time-dependent effects of tDCS working memory network connectivity in older adults. tDCS during working memory performance produces a selective change in functional connectivity of the working memory network in older adults. These data provide important mechanistic insight into the effects of tDCS on brain connectivity in older adults, as well as key methodological considerations for tDCS-working memory studies.

PMID: 30930766 [PubMed]

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