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VINCENZA TARANTINO

Reward motivation and neurostimulation interact to improve working memory performance in healthy older adults: A simultaneous tDCS-fNIRS study

  • Autori: Di Rosa, E.; Brigadoi, S.; Cutini, S.; Tarantino, V.; Dell'Acqua, R.; Mapelli, D.; Braver, T.; Vallesi, A.
  • Anno di pubblicazione: 2019
  • Tipologia: Articolo in rivista
  • OA Link: http://hdl.handle.net/10447/367280

Abstract

Several studies have evaluated the effect of anodal transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) over the prefrontal cortex (PFC) for the enhancement of working memory (WM) performance in healthy older adults. However, the mixed results obtained so far suggest the need for concurrent brain imaging, in order to more directly examine tDCS effects. The present study adopted a continuous multimodal approach utilizing functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) to examine the interactive effects of tDCS combined with manipulations of reward motivation. Twenty-one older adults (mean age = 69.7 years; SD = 5.05) performed an experimental visuo-spatial WM task before, during and after the delivery of 1.5 mA anodal tDCS/sham over the left prefrontal cortex (PFC). During stimulation, participants received performance-contingent reward for every fast and correct response during the WM task. In both sessions, hemodynamic activity of the bilateral frontal, motor and parietal areas was recorded across the entire duration of the WM task. Cognitive functions and reward sensitivity were also assessed with standard measures. Results demonstrated a significant impact of tDCS on both WM performance and hemodynamic activity. Specifically, faster responses in the WM task were observed both during and after anodal tDCS, while no differences were found under sham control conditions. However, these effects emerged only when taking into account individual visuo-spatial WM capacity. Additionally, during and after the anodal tDCS, increased hemodynamic activity relative to sham was observed in the bilateral PFC, while no effects of tDCS were detected in the motor and parietal areas. These results provide the first evidence of tDCS-dependent functional changes in PFC activity in healthy older adults during the execution of a WM task. Moreover, they highlight the utility of combining reward motivation with prefrontal anodal tDCS, as a potential strategy to improve WM efficiency in low performing healthy older adults.