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Brain Stimul. 2014 Jul-Aug;7(4):499-507. doi: 10.1016/j.brs.2014.04.008. Epub 2014 May 9.

A comparison of the effects of transcranial direct current stimulation and caffeine on vigilance and cognitive performance during extended wakefulness.

Author information

1
Infoscitex Inc., Dayton, OH, USA.
2
711th HPW, Applied Neuroscience Branch, 2510 Fifth Street, Bldg 840, USA. Electronic address: Andy.McKinley@wpafb.af.mil.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Sleep deprivation from extended duty hours is a common complaint for many occupations. Caffeine is one of the most common countermeasures used to combat fatigue. However, the benefits of caffeine decline over time and with chronic use.

OBJECTIVE:

Our objective was to evaluate the efficacy of anodal transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) applied to the pre-frontal cortex at 2 mA for 30 min to remediate the effects of sleep deprivation and to compare the behavioral effects of tDCS with those of caffeine.

METHODS:

Three groups of 10 participants each received either active tDCS with placebo gum, caffeine gum with sham tDCS, or sham tDCS with placebo gum during 30 h of extended wakefulness.

RESULTS:

Our results show that tDCS prevented a decrement in vigilance and led to better subjective ratings for fatigue, drowsiness, energy, and composite mood compared to caffeine and control in sleep-deprived individuals. Both the tDCS and caffeine produced similar improvements in latencies on a short-term memory task and faster reaction times in a psychomotor task when compared to the placebo group. Interestingly, changes in accuracy for the tDCS group were not correlated to changes in mood; whereas, there was a relationship for the caffeine and sham groups.

CONCLUSION:

Our data suggest that tDCS could be a useful fatigue countermeasure and may be more beneficial than caffeine since boosts in performance and mood last several hours.

KEYWORDS:

Attention; Caffeine; Cognition; Sleep deprivation; Transcranial direct current stimulation

PMID:
25047826
DOI:
10.1016/j.brs.2014.04.008
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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