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Front Syst Neurosci. 2015 Mar 9;9:27. doi: 10.3389/fnsys.2015.00027. eCollection 2015.

Wearable functional near infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) and transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS): expanding vistas for neurocognitive augmentation.

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Center of Excellence in Neuroergonomics, Technology, and Cognition (CENTEC), George Mason University Fairfax, VA, USA.
School of Biomedical Engineering, Science and Health Systems, Drexel University Philadelphia, PA, USA.


Contemporary studies with transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) provide a growing base of evidence for enhancing cognition through the non-invasive delivery of weak electric currents to the brain. The main effect of tDCS is to modulate cortical excitability depending on the polarity of the applied current. However, the underlying mechanism of neuromodulation is not well understood. A new generation of functional near infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) systems is described that are miniaturized, portable, and include wearable sensors. These developments provide an opportunity to couple fNIRS with tDCS, consistent with a neuroergonomics approach for joint neuroimaging and neurostimulation investigations of cognition in complex tasks and in naturalistic conditions. The effects of tDCS on complex task performance and the use of fNIRS for monitoring cognitive workload during task performance are described. Also explained is how fNIRS + tDCS can be used simultaneously for assessing spatial working memory. Mobile optical brain imaging is a promising neuroimaging tool that has the potential to complement tDCS for realistic applications in natural settings.


DLPFC; HDtDCS; fNIRS; neuroergonomics; spatial working memory

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