Oscillatory brain activity and transcranial direct current stimulation in humans

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The aim of this study was to induce changes of the oscillatory activity in the visual cortex of healthy human subjects by modulation of neuronal excitability using weak transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS). tDCS is a non-invasive stimulation method which induces prolonged, polarity-dependent increases or reductions in cortical excitability. An increase in high frequency oscillatory activity in the beta and gamma frequency ranges is closely related in time to the N70 peak of the primary visual evoked potential (VEP), which is an early sensory component of visual activation. Therefore this potential can be used to observe tDCS-induced changes related to oscillatory activity. VEPs were recorded using sinusoidal luminance gratings in an on/off mode before, immediately after and 10, 20, 30 min after the end of 10 min anodal or cathodal stimulation. Cathodal stimulation significantly decreased while anodal stimulation slightly increased the normalized beta and gamma frequency powers. We have shown here that tDCS transiently and reversibly changed the organized cortical activity elicited by visual stimulation. Since gamma activity is also related to a higher level of information processing, tDCS might be a suitable method to affect higher order cognitive processes.

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