Is Transcranial Alternating Current Stimulation Effective in Modulating Brain Oscillations?

Brignani, Debora; Ruzzoli, Manuela; Mauri, Piercarlo; Miniussi, Carlo
February 2013
PLoS ONE;Feb2013, Vol. 8 Issue 2, p1
Academic Journal
Transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS) is a promising tool for modulating brain oscillations, as well as a possible therapeutic intervention. However, the lack of conclusive evidence on whether tACS is able to effectively affect cortical activity continues to limit its application. The present study aims to address this issue by exploiting the well-known inhibitory alpha rhythm in the posterior parietal cortex during visual perception and attention orientation. Four groups of healthy volunteers were tested with a Gabor patch detection and discrimination task. All participants were tested at the baseline and selective frequencies of tACS, including Sham, 6 Hz, 10 Hz, and 25 Hz. Stimulation at 6 Hz and 10 Hz over the occipito-parietal area impaired performance in the detection task compared to the baseline. The lack of a retinotopically organised effect and marginal frequency-specificity modulation in the detection task force us to be cautious about the effectiveness of tACS in modulating brain oscillations. Therefore, the present study does not provide significant evidence for tACS reliably inducing direct modulations of brain oscillations that can influence performance in a visual task.


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