Exploring the impact of intensified multiple session tDCS over the left DLPFC on brain function in MCI: a randomized control trial

Šimko P, Pupíková M, Gajdoš M, Klobušiaková P, Vávra V, Šimo A, Rektorová I.

Sci Rep. 2024 Jan 17;14(1):1512. doi: 10.1038/s41598-024-51690-8. PMID: 38233437; PMCID:PMC10794210.


2 Feb 2024

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Transcranial direct current stimulation combined with cognitive training (tDCS-cog) represents a promising approach to combat cognitive decline among healthy older adults and patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI). In this 5-day-long double-blinded randomized trial, we investigated the impact of intensified tDCS-cog protocol involving two trains of stimulation per day on working memory (WM) enhancement in 35 amnestic and multidomain amnestic MCI patients. Specifically, we focused to improve WM tasks relying on top-down attentional control and hypothesized that intensified tDCS would enhance performance of visual object matching task (VOMT) immediately after the stimulation regimen and at a 1-month follow-up. Secondarily, we explored whether the stimulation would augment online visual working memory training. Using fMRI, we aimed to elucidate the neural mechanisms underlying the intervention effects by analyzing BOLD activations during VOMT. Our main finding revealed no superior after-effects of tDCS-cog over the sham on VOMT among individuals with MCI as indicated by insignificant immediate and long-lasting after-effects. Additionally, the tDCS-cog did not enhance online training as predicted. The fMRI analysis revealed brain activity alterations in right insula that may be linked to tDCS-cog intervention. In the study we discuss the insignificant behavioral results in the context of the current evidence in tDCS parameter space and opening the discussion of possible interference between trained cognitive tasks.

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