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Stimulating somatosensory psychophysics: a double-blind, sham-controlled study of the neurobiological mechanisms of tDCS

Hanley, Claire J., Tommerdahl, Mark and McGonigle, David ORCID: 2015. Stimulating somatosensory psychophysics: a double-blind, sham-controlled study of the neurobiological mechanisms of tDCS. Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience 9 , 400. 10.3389/fncel.2015.00400

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The neuromodulation technique transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is thought to produce its effects on behavior by altering cortical excitability. Although the mechanisms underlying the observed effects are thought to rely on the balance of excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmission, the physiological principles of the technique are not completely understood. In this study, we examine the influence of tDCS on vibrotactile adaptation, using a simple amplitude discrimination paradigm that has been shown to exhibit modifications in performance due to changes in inhibitory neurotransmission. Double-blind tDCS (Anodal/Sham) of 1 mA was delivered for 600 s to electrodes positioned in a somatosensory/contralateral orbit montage. Stimulation was applied as part of a pre/post design, between blocks of the behavioral tasks. In accordance with previous work, results obtained before the application of tDCS indicated that amplitude discrimination thresholds were significantly worsened during adaptation trials, compared to those achieved at baseline. However, tDCS failed to modify amplitude discrimination performance. Using a Bayesian approach, this finding was revealed to constitute substantial evidence for the null hypothesis. The failure of DC stimulation to alter vibrotactile adaptation thresholds is discussed in the context of several factors that may have confounded the induction of changes in cortical plasticity.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Biosciences
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Publisher: Frontiers Media
ISSN: 1662-5102
Funders: President's Scholarships CU
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Date of Acceptance: 22 September 2015
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2022 10:22

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