tDCS Didn’t Modulate Executive Function

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Neither cathodal nor anodal transcranial direct current stimulation on the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex alone or applied during moderate aerobic exercise modulates executive function.

Abstract
There is converging evidence that both aerobic exercise (AE) and transcranial direct current stimulation ( tDCS) can acutely modulate executive functions (EF). In addition, recent studies have proposed the beneficial effects of applying tDCS during AE on physical performance. This study aimed to investigate whether tDCS applied during an AE session additionally or differently effects EF. Therefore, five experiments were conducted in a counterbalanced pre-post-retention crossover design to explore the acute effects of tDCS and AE on EF (inhibition and updating) once in isolation (i.e., either cathodal, anodal tDCS or AE alone as controls) and once in a combined application (i.e., anodal and cathodal tDCS during AE versus sham tDCS during AE). No differences were found in any experiment in the cognitive test parameters. However, in the case of anodal tDCS vs. sham during AE, heart rate was significantly affected. For cathodal tDCS vs. sham during AE, a significant Anova interaction indicated that cathodal tDCS during AE slightly reduced ratings of perceived exertion. The nonsignificant effects of tDCS on EFs are in contrast to previous studies, as no replication of existing observations could be achieved. Thus, the protocol applied in this study does not provide any strong evidence that a combination of AE and tDCS has any effects on EFs, but indicates effects on physiological parameters and subjective exhaustion ratings. Further research should consider changes in AE and tDCS parameters (e.g., intensity or exercise mode) and sequence of applications (online vs. offline).

PMID: 32682826 [PubMed – as supplied by publisher]

Neuroscience. 2020 Jul 16;:

Authors: Thomas F, Pixa NH, Berger A, Cheng MY, Doppelmayr M, Steinberg F

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