PLOS ONE: Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation Augments Perceptual Sensitivity and 24-Hour Retention in a Complex Threat Detection Task

Vincent Clark is an author on this paper. He’s associated with the Mind Research Network. We earlier covered work by Michael Weisend, also from MRN around a Jan. 2012 paper. This paper offers further details and is available to the public.

Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation Procedures

TDCS was applied using an ActivaDose II Iontophoresis Delivery Unit, which provides for delivery of a constant low level of direct current. Square-shaped (11 cm2) saline-soaked (0.9% sodium saline solution) sponge electrodes were attached to the participant with self-adhesive bandage strips. The anode was placed near electrode site F10 in the 10-10 EEG system, over the right sphenoid bone. The cathode was placed on the contralateral (left) upper arm. The site of the anode was selected based on our previous fMRI results showing that this brain region was the primary locus of neural activity associated with performance this task [23].

Anodal 2 mA current was applied to the scalp electrode site F10 in the 10-10 EEG system. The resulting enhancement of performance in the threat detection task is consistent with our previous fMRI results [23] showing that the right inferior frontal cortex is a major locus of a distributed brain network that mediates performance on this task. The right parietal cortex is a part of this network and could also be a target for stimulation.
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One possible explanation for the improvement in detection performance (hit rate) in the threat detection task is that tDCS increases general arousal, thereby leading to a change in response bias in the more liberal direction [25], which would increase the hit rate. However, computation of signal detection metrics showed that there were no significant effects of tDCS on the ß measure of response bias. Instead, the effect of brain stimulation was to enhance perceptual sensitivity, d′.

The improvement in perceptual sensitivity suggests that participants receiving tDCS were better able to encode stimulus features that distinguished targets and non-targets, which in turn led to accelerated learning and improved retention.

via PLOS ONE: Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation Augments Perceptual Sensitivity and 24-Hour Retention in a Complex Threat Detection Task.

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