Santa Lucia - Neurosciences and Rehabilitation Sapienza University of Rome

Eur J Neurosci. 2018 Sep 30. doi: 10.1111/ejn.14174. [Epub ahead of print]

Midfrontal theta transcranial alternating current stimulation modulates behavioural adjustment after error execution

Cognitive control during conflict monitoring, error processing, and post-error adjustment appear to be associated with the occurrence of midfrontal theta (MFϴ). While this association is supported by correlational EEG studies, much less is known about the possible causal link between MFϴ and error and conflict processing. In the present study, we aimed to explore the role of band-specific effects in modulating the error system during a conflict resolution. In turn, we delivered transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS) at different frequency bands (delta δ, theta θ, alpha α, beta β, gamma γ) and sham stimulation over the medial frontal cortex (MFC) in 36 healthy participants performing a modified version of the Flanker task. Task performance and reports about the sensations (e.g. visual flickering, cutaneous burning) induced by the different frequency bands, were also recorded. We found that online θ-tACS increased the response speed to congruent stimuli after error execution with respect to sham stimulation. Importantly, the accuracy following the errors did not decrease because of speed-accuracy trade off. Moreover, tACS evoked visual and somatosensory sensations were significantly stronger at α-tACS and β-tACS compared to other frequencies. Our findings suggest that theta activity plays a causative role in modulating behavioural adjustments during perceptual choices in a stimulus-response conflict task.

doi: 10.1111/ejn.14174

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