Impact of tDCS on sustained attention in breast cancer survivors

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Impact of transcranial direct current stimulation on sustained attention in breast cancer survivors: Evidence for feasibility, tolerability, and initial efficacy.

BACKGROUND: A significant subset of breast cancer survivors experience cognitive difficulties in attention and memory, which persist for years following treatment. Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) has been shown to be effective in improving working memory, attention, processing speed, and other cognitive functions in both healthy and clinical populations. To date, no studies have examined tDCS in rehabilitation of cancer-related cognitive dysfunction.
OBJECTIVE/HYPOTHESIS: We aimed to provide preliminary evidence for feasibility, tolerability, acceptability, and efficacy of tDCS in improving performance on a measure of sustained attention.
METHODS: In a within-subjects design, 16 breast cancer survivors underwent 2 consecutive days of active tDCS over the prefrontal cortex, and 2 days of sham tDCS, counterbalanced for order of stimulation condition, while performing a continuous performance test.
RESULTS: Stimulation was feasible and tolerable, with 89% of participants completing all sessions, and none reporting more than mild to moderate discomfort. Analyses of efficacy showed that during active stimulation, participants had significantly lower standard errors of reaction times overall, indicating better sustained attention ability, as compared to sham stimulation (p<0.05). Furthermore, the effect of stimulation on standard errors of reaction times differed by inter-stimulus interval (ISI): for 1 and 2 second ISIs, there was no significant difference in performance between sham and active tDCS conditions, but for 4 second ISIs, stimulation improved variability in response times relative to sham (p<0.05).
CONCLUSIONS: Results suggest that tDCS is feasible, tolerable, and may be an effective intervention to improve sustained attention difficulties in survivors with cancer-related cognitive dysfunction.

PMID: 32353419 [PubMed – as supplied by publisher]

Brain Stimul. 2020 Apr 27;:

Authors: Gaynor AM, Pergolizzi D, Alici Y, Ryan E, McNeal K, Ahles TA, Root JC