No Evidence for Enhancements to Visual Working Memory With Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation to Prefrontal or Posterior Parietal Cortices

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Abstract

The present study examined the relative contributions of the prefrontal cortex (PFC) and posterior parietal cortex (PPC) to visual working memory. Evidence from a number of different techniques has led to the theory that the PFC controls access to working memory (i.e., filtering), determining which information is encoded and maintained for later use whereas the parietal cortex determines how much information is held at 1 given time, regardless of relevance (i.e., capacity; McNab & Klingberg, 2008; Vogel, McCollough, & Machizawa, 2005). To test this theory, we delivered transcranial DC stimulation (tDCS) to the right PFC and right PPC and measured visual working memory capacity and filtering abilities both during and immediately following stimulation. We observed no evidence that tDCS to either the PFC or PPC significantly improved visual working memory. Although the present results did not allow us to make firm theoretical conclusions about the roles of the PFC and PPC in working memory, the results add to the growing body of literature surrounding tDCS and its associated behavioral and neurophysiological effects.

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