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Brain Res. 2010 Aug 19;1349:76-89. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2010.06.053. Epub 2010 Jul 1.

Brain polarization of parietal cortex augments training-induced improvement of visual exploratory and attentional skills.

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Department of Psychology, University of Milano-Bicocca, Milano, Italy.


Recent evidence suggests that behavioural gains induced by behavioural training are maximized when combined with techniques of cortical neuromodulation, such as transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS). Here we address the validity of this appealing approach by investigating the effect of coupling a multisensory visual field exploration training with tDCS of the posterior parietal cortex (PPC). The multisensory visual field exploration training consisted in the practice of visual search through the systematic audio-visual stimulation of the visual field. Neurologically unimpaired participants performed a bimodal exploration training for 30 min, while simultaneously receiving anodal-excitatory PPC tDCS or sham tDCS. In two different experiments, the left and the right hemisphere were stimulated. Outcome measures included visual exploration speed at different time intervals during the training, and the post-training effects on tests assessing visual scanning and visuo-spatial orienting. Results show that PPC tDCS applied to the right, but not to the left, hemisphere increases the training-induced behavioural improvement of visual exploration, as compared to sham tDCS. In addition, right PPC tDCS brings about an improvement of covert visual orienting, in a task different from the visual search practice. In an additional experiment, we confirm that right parietal tDCS by itself, even without the associated training, can lead to enhancement of visual search. Overall, anodal PPC tDCS is a promising technique to enhance visuo-spatial abilities, when combined to a visual field exploration training task.

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