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2012
Article
Meinzer, M., Antonenko, D., Lindenberg, R., Hetzer, S., Ulm, L., Avirame, K., Flaisch, T., & Flöel, A.

Electrical brain stimulation improves cognitive performance by modulating task-specific activation and functional connectivity

Meinzer, M., Antonenko, D., Lindenberg, R., Hetzer, S., Ulm, L., Avirame, K., Flaisch, T., & Flöel, A. (2012). Electrical brain stimulation improves cognitive performance by modulating task-specific activation and functional connectivity. Journal of Neuroscience, 32, 1856-1866. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4812-11.2012

Excitatory anodal transcranial direct current stimulation (atDCS) can improve human cognitive functions, but neural underpinnings of its mode of action remain elusive. In a cross-over placebo (“sham”) controlled study we used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to investigate neurofunctional correlates of improved language functions induced by atDCS over a core language area, the left inferior frontal gyrus (IFG). Intrascanner transcranial direct current stimulation-induced changes in overt semantic word generation assessed behavioral modulation; task-related and task-independent (resting-state) fMRI characterized language network changes. Improved word-retrieval during atDCS was paralleled by selectively reduced task-related activation in the left ventral IFG, an area specifically implicated in semantic retrieval processes. Under atDCS, resting-state fMRI revealed increased connectivity of the left IFG and additional major hubs overlapping with the language network. In conclusion, atDCS modulates endogenous low-frequency oscillations in a distributed set of functionally connected brain areas, possibly inducing more efficient processing in critical task-relevant areas and improved behavioral performance.