Modifying Working Memory Function with tACS
Transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS) is a method of safe and non-invasive electrical brain stimulation. This neuromodulation method uses two electrodes to apply a weak electrical current to the scalp and alternate the polarity of current passed between the electrodes. The frequency of alternation can be controlled to mimic a variety of internal electrical oscillations that naturally occurs in the brain and are commonly measured with electroencephalography (EEG). For example, theta oscillations in the brain are commonly associated with working memory function. In theory, further synchronizing theta rhythms could enhance working memory function, whereas desynchronizing or interfering with theta may disrupt working memory function. This funded R21 (Ding & Woods, MPIs) investigates whether tACS delivered at theta frequencies and delivered to frontal and parietal brain regions alters working memory function in a cohort of younger adults. This study uses EEG to record a participant’s theta rhythm and delivers tACS matched in-phase or anti-phase. When compared to sham control, this study will provide novel insight into a potential non-invasive intervention that may hold promise for application in populations with working memory deficits, such as cognitive aging or dementia.
National Institute on Mental Health R21MH112206