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Ann Rehabil Med. 2012 Oct;36(5):585-95. doi: 10.5535/arm.2012.36.5.585. Epub 2012 Oct 31.

Improvement of the working memory and naming by transcranial direct current stimulation.

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Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, School of Medicine, Ewha Womans University, Seoul 158-710, Korea.



To investigate the effects of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) applied over the prefrontal cortex on the improvement of verbal, visuospatial working memory and naming in healthy adults.


Thirty two healthy adults (15 males and 17 females, mean age 37.3±13.0 years) were enrolled in this study. The subjects were divided into four groups randomly. They underwent sham or anodal tDCS over the left or right prefrontal cortex, for 20 minutes at a direct current of 1 mA. Before and immediately after tDCS, the subjects performed the Korean version of the mini-mental state exam (K-MMSE) and stroop test (color/word/interference) for the screening of cognitive function. For working memory and language evaluation, the digit span test (forward/backward), the visuospatial attention test in computer assisted cognitive program (CogPack®) and the Korean-Boston Naming Test (K-BNT) were assessed before tDCS, immediately after tDCS, and 2 weeks after tDCS.


The stroop test (word/interference), backward digit span test and K-BNT were improved in the left prefrontal tDCS group compared with that of the sham group (p<0.05). The stroop test (interference) and visuospatial attention test were in the right prefrontal tDCS group compared with that of the sham group (p<0.05). Their improvement lasted for 2 weeks after stimulation.


tDCS can induce verbal working memory improvement and naming facilitation by stimulating the left prefrontal cortex. It can also improve the visuospatial working memory by stimulating the right prefrontal cortex. Further studies which are lesion and symptom specific tDCS treatment for rehabilitation of stroke can be carried out.


Language; Naming; Prefrontal cortex; Transcranial direct current stimulation; Working memory

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