Theta tACS improves associative memory.

Theta-modulated oscillatory transcranial direct current stimulation over posterior parietal cortex improves associative memory.

Associative memory (AM) reflects the ability to remember and retrieve multiple pieces of information bound together thus enabling complex episodic experiences. Despite growing interest in the use of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) for the modulation of AM, there are inconsistent evidence regarding its benefits. An alternative to standard constant tDCS could be the application of frequency-modulated tDCS protocols, that mimic natural function-relevant brain rhythms. Here, we show the effects of anodal tDCS oscillating in theta rhythm (5 Hz; 1.5 ± 0.1 mA) versus constant anodal tDCS and sham over left posterior parietal cortex on cued recall of face-word associations. In a crossover design, each participant completed AM assessment immediately following 20-min theta-oscillatory, constant, and sham tDCS, as well as 1 and 5 days after. Theta oscillatory tDCS increased initial AM performance in comparison to sham, and so did constant tDCS. On the group level, no differences between oscillatory and constant tDCS were observed, but individual-level analysis revealed that some participants responded to theta-oscillatory but not to constant tDCS, and vice versa, which could be attributed to their different physiological modes of action. This study shows the potential of oscillatory tDCS protocols for memory enhancement to produce strong and reliable memory-modulating effects which deserve to be investigated further.

PMID: 33542344 [PubMed – in process]

Sci Rep. 2021 Feb 04;11(1):3013

Authors: Vulić K, Bjekić J, Paunović D, Jovanović M, Milanović S, Filipović SR





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