Non-invasive brain stimulation to investigate language production in healthy speakers: A meta-analysis

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Non-invasive brain stimulation (NIBS) has become a common method to study the interrelations between the brain and language functioning. This meta-analysis examined the efficacy of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and direct current stimulation (tDCS) in the study of language production in healthy volunteers. Forty-five effect sizes from 30 studies which investigated the effects of NIBS on picture naming or verbal fluency in healthy participants were meta-analysed. Further sub-analyses investigated potential influences of stimulation type, control, target site, task, online vs. offline application, and current density of the target electrode. Random effects modelling showed a small, but reliable effect of NIBS on language production. Subsequent analyses indicated larger weighted mean effect sizes for TMS as compared to tDCS studies. No statistical differences for the other sub-analyses were observed. We conclude that NIBS is a useful method for neuroscientific studies on language production in healthy volunteers.

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