Transcranial direct current stimulation can selectively affect different processing channels in human visual cortex

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Experimental Brain Research
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Costa T.L.
Hamer R.D.
Nagy B.V.
Barboni M.T.S.
Gualtieri M.
Boggio P.S.
Ventura D.F.
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© 2015, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is a non-invasive brain stimulation technique that can modulate cortical activity. Nonetheless, information regarding its functional specificity and the extent by which visual performance can be modulated is still lacking. Here, we used vision as model to address if it differentially affects different cell groups in the stimulated area. We applied tDCS to the occiput and performed a series of visual tests in a sham-controlled repeated-measures design. Achromatic contrast sensitivity was assessed psychophysically during tDCS, with tasks designed to target specific spatial frequency (SF) channels, inferred ON, OFF channels and inferred magnocellular and parvocellular pathways of the visual system. Sweep visual evoked potential (sVEP) for contrast sensitivity and Vernier acuity was recorded before and after tDCS. Anodal tDCS significantly increased thresholds for luminance decrements (OFF) only for the inferred magnocellular thresholds. Although tDCS had no significant effects on Vernier or contrast sVEP thresholds, it modulated suprathreshold amplitudes for both tasks. Cathodal tDCS increased sVEP amplitudes at a low SF, decreased it at a medium, and had no effect at a high SF. Cathodal tDCS increased sVEP phase lags for low and decreased it for high SF (maximum change corresponding to change in apparent latency >6 ms). Cathodal and anodal stimulation decreased amplitudes of sVEP Vernier responses. Exclusive tDCS effects on magnocellular thresholds agree with reports of pathway-specific tDCS effects. The dependence of tDCS effects on SF and contrast levels further suggests that tDCS differentially affects different cell groups in the visual cortex.
Assuntos Scopus
Adult , Analysis of Variance , Contrast Sensitivity , Electroencephalography , Evoked Potentials, Visual , Female , Humans , Male , Photic Stimulation , Psychophysics , Reaction Time , Single-Blind Method , Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation , Visual Cortex , Young Adult
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