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Front Neurosci. 2018 Jun 18;12:410. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2018.00410. eCollection 2018.

Differential Bilateral Primary Motor Cortex tDCS Fails to Modulate Choice Bias and Readiness in Perceptual Decision Making.

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Timing and Decision Making Lab, Department of Psychology, Koç University, Istanbul, Turkey.
Cakmak Lab, Department of Anatomy, School of Biomedical Sciences, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand.
Brain Health Research Centre, Dunedin, New Zealand.
Medical Technologies Centre of Research Excellence, Auckland, New Zealand.
Koç University Research Center for Translational Medicine, Koç University, Istanbul, Turkey.


One of the critical factors that guide choice behavior is the prior bias of the decision-maker with respect to different options, namely, the relative readiness by which the decision-maker opts for a specific choice. Although previous neuroimaging work has shown decision bias related activity in the orbitofrontal cortex, intraparietal sulcus (IPS) and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, in a recent work by Javadi et al. (2015), primary motor cortex was also implicated. By applying transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), they have revealed a causal role of the primary motor cortex excitability in the induction of response time (RT) differences and decision bias in the form of choice probability. The current study aimed to replicate these recent findings with an experimental design that contained a sham group to increase experimental control and an additional testing phase to investigate the possible after-effects of tDCS. The conventional decision outputs such as choice proportion and RT were analyzed along with the theory-driven estimates of choice bias and non-decision related components of RTs (e.g., motor implementation speed of choices made). None of the statistical comparisons favored the alternative hypotheses over the null hypotheses. Consequently, previous findings regarding the effect of primary motor cortex excitability on choice bias and response times could not be replicated with a more controlled experimental design that is recommended for tDCS studies (Horvath et al., 2015). This empirical discrepancy between the two studies adds to the evidence demonstrating inconsistent effects of tDCS in establishing causal relationships between cortical excitability and motor behavior.


computational modeling; drift diffusion model; perceptual decision making; primary motor cortex (M1); transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS)

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