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Brain state and polarity dependent modulation of brain networks by transcranial direct current stimulation

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Lucia M. Li, Ines R. Violante, Rob Leech, Ewan Ross, Adam Hampshire, Alexander Opitz, John C. Rothwell, David W. Carmichael, David J. Sharp

Original languageEnglish
JournalHuman Brain Mapping
Early online date30 Oct 2018
DOIs
StateE-pub ahead of print - 30 Oct 2018

King's Authors

Abstract

Despite its widespread use in cognitive studies, there is still limited understanding of whether and how transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) modulates brain network function. To clarify its physiological effects, we assessed brain network function using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) simultaneously acquired during tDCS stimulation. Cognitive state was manipulated by having subjects perform a Choice Reaction Task or being at “rest.” A novel factorial design was used to assess the effects of brain state and polarity. Anodal and cathodal tDCS were applied to the right inferior frontal gyrus (rIFG), a region involved in controlling activity large-scale intrinsic connectivity networks during switches of cognitive state. tDCS produced widespread modulation of brain activity in a polarity and brain state dependent manner. In the absence of task, the main effect of tDCS was to accentuate default mode network (DMN) activation and salience network (SN) deactivation. In contrast, during task performance, tDCS increased SN activation. In the absence of task, the main effect of anodal tDCS was more pronounced, whereas cathodal tDCS had a greater effect during task performance. Cathodal tDCS also accentuated the within-DMN connectivity associated with task performance. There were minimal main effects of stimulation on network connectivity. These results demonstrate that rIFG tDCS can modulate the activity and functional connectivity of large-scale brain networks involved in cognitive function, in a brain state and polarity dependent manner. This study provides an important insight into mechanisms by which tDCS may modulate cognitive function, and also has implications for the design of future stimulation studies.

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