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Researchers confirm transcranial stimulation effects and determine a key mechanism

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Trisha Lewis
Oct 12, 2017 16:58
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HRL Laboratories, LLC, researchers have determined how non-invasive transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) could increase performance of associative learning.

The researchers found that when applied to the prefrontal cortex, tDCS affects a wide portion of the brain, causing changes in functional connectivity between different brain areas that increased learning speed in macaques.

This new understanding of what tDCS does to the brain and its confirmation of tDCS as a learning aid comes in the context of controversy over previous reports that seemed to show no effect on neuron firing rates in cadaver heads, which was generally believed to be the mechanism of interest.

tDCS-based behavioral results have also been questioned on statistical and methodological grounds, but those analyses have been criticized.

Published October 12, 2017, in the journal Current Biology, tDCS in animals showed learning accelerated by about 40% when given 2 mA noninvasively to the prefrontal cortex without increased neuronal firing.

This study showed it was modulated connectivity between brain areas, not neuron firing rates, that accounted for the increased learning speed.

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Trisha Lewis
Oct 12, 2017 16:58
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