Transcranial direct current stimulation over multiple days improves learning and maintenance of a novel vocabulary

Meinzer, Marcus, Jahnigen, Sophia, Copland, David A., Darkow, Robert, Grittner, Ulrike, Avirame, Keren, Rodriguez, Amy D., Lindenberg, Robert and Floel, Agnes (2014) Transcranial direct current stimulation over multiple days improves learning and maintenance of a novel vocabulary. Cortex, 50 137-147. doi:10.1016/j.cortex.2013.07.013

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Author Meinzer, Marcus
Jahnigen, Sophia
Copland, David A.
Darkow, Robert
Grittner, Ulrike
Avirame, Keren
Rodriguez, Amy D.
Lindenberg, Robert
Floel, Agnes
Title Transcranial direct current stimulation over multiple days improves learning and maintenance of a novel vocabulary
Journal name Cortex   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0010-9452
Publication date 2014-01
Year available 2013
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1016/j.cortex.2013.07.013
Open Access Status File (Author Post-print)
Volume 50
Start page 137
End page 147
Total pages 11
Place of publication Milan, Italy
Publisher Elsevier Masson
Collection year 2014
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Introduction: Recently, growing interest emerged in the enhancement of human potential by means of non-invasive brain stimulation. In particular, anodal transcranial direct current stimulation (atDCS) has been shown to exert beneficial effects on motor and higher cognitive functions. However, the majority of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) studies have assessed effects of single stimulation sessions that are mediated by transient neural modulation. Studies assessing the impact of multiple stimulation sessions on learning that may induce long-lasting behavioural and neural changes are scarce and have not yet been accomplished in the language domain in healthy individuals.

Method: The present study probed the potential of atDCS to enhance language learning over multiple days by employing an explicit word learning paradigm. Forty healthy young participants were randomized to learning with either simultaneous atDCS or sham stimulation (N = 20/group; comparable regarding demographic variables and neurocognitive status). All participants acquired a novel vocabulary (familiar and novel object picture - non-word pairs) over five consecutive days. Two memory tasks (free recall; forced choice recognition tasks) were administered immediately after each training session. A one week follow-up tested the maintenance of learning success.

Results: Linear mixed effects model analysis revealed superior learning during atDCS compared to sham stimulation for both familiar and novel objects. atDCS yielded a steeper learning curve and significantly more pronounced learning at the end of the training during the recall task. During the recognition task, the atDCS group reached ceiling levels earlier and overall learning success was greater. For both tasks, beneficial atDCS effects were maintained during the follow-up assessment.

Conclusions: The present study provides direct evidence that atDCS administered during multiple learning sessions facilitates language learning and that effects are maintained over time. This study contributes important novel information about the extent of stimulation effects in the healthy brain, thereby highlighting the potential of atDCS to enhance language recovery after stroke.
Keyword Brain stimulation
Language functions
Longitudinal design
Transcranial direct current stimulation
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ
Additional Notes Published online: 6 August 2013.

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: UQ Centre for Clinical Research Publications
Official 2014 Collection
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 42 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 28 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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Created: Wed, 27 Nov 2013, 14:05:40 EST by Anthony Yeates on behalf of UQ Centre for Clinical Research