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Neuropsychologia. 2013 Jun;51(7):1234-9. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2013.03.013. Epub 2013 Apr 2.

Anodal tDCS to V1 blocks visual perceptual learning consolidation.

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Department of Psychology, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1563, USA.


This study examined the effects of visual cortex transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) on visual processing and learning. Participants performed a contrast detection task on two consecutive days. Each session consisted of a baseline measurement followed by measurements made during active or sham stimulation. On the first day, one group received anodal stimulation to primary visual cortex (V1), while another received cathodal stimulation. Stimulation polarity was reversed for these groups on the second day. The third (control) group of subjects received sham stimulation on both days. No improvements or decrements in contrast sensitivity relative to the same-day baseline were observed during real tDCS, nor was any within-session learning trend observed. However, task performance improved significantly from Day 1 to Day 2 for the participants who received cathodal tDCS on Day 1 and for the sham group. No such improvement was found for the participants who received anodal stimulation on Day 1, indicating that anodal tDCS blocked overnight consolidation of visual learning, perhaps through engagement of inhibitory homeostatic plasticity mechanisms or alteration of the signal-to-noise ratio within stimulated cortex. These results show that applying tDCS to the visual cortex can modify consolidation of visual learning.

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