Limits to tDCS effects in language:failures to modulate word production in healthy participants with frontal or temporal tDCS

Westwood, Samuel J., Olson, Andrew, Miall, R. Chris, Nappo, Raffaele and Romani, Cristina (2017). Limits to tDCS effects in language:failures to modulate word production in healthy participants with frontal or temporal tDCS. Cortex, 86 , pp. 64-82.


Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is a method of non-invasive brain stimulation widely used to modulate cognitive functions. Recent studies, however, suggests that effects are unreliable, small and often non-significant at least when stimulation is applied in a single session to healthy individuals. We examined the effects of frontal and temporal lobe anodal tDCS on naming and reading tasks and considered possible interactions with linguistic activation and selection mechanisms as well possible interactions with item difficulty and participant individual variability. Across four separate experiments (N, Exp 1A = 18; 1B = 20; 1C = 18; 2 = 17), we failed to find any difference between real and sham stimulation. Moreover, we found no evidence of significant effects limited to particular conditions (i.e., those requiring suppression of semantic interference), to a subset of participants or to longer RTs. Our findings sound a cautionary note on using tDCS as a means to modulate cognitive performance. Consistent effects of tDCS may be difficult to demonstrate in healthy participants in reading and naming tasks, and be limited to cases of pathological neurophysiology and/or to the use of learning paradigms.

Publication DOI:
Divisions: Life & Health Sciences > Psychology
Life & Health Sciences > Clinical and Systems Neuroscience
Life & Health Sciences
Life & Health Sciences > Vision, Hearing and Language
Additional Information: © 2016, Elsevier. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International
Uncontrolled Keywords: Interference effects and tDCS,tDCS and language tasks,tDCS and picture naming,tDCS in control participants,Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology,Experimental and Cognitive Psychology,Cognitive Neuroscience
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Related URLs: http://www.scop ... tnerID=8YFLogxK (Scopus URL)
Published Date: 2017-01-01
Authors: Westwood, Samuel J.
Olson, Andrew
Miall, R. Chris
Nappo, Raffaele
Romani, Cristina



Version: Published Version

License: Creative Commons Attribution

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