Multichannel anodal tDCS over the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex in a paediatric population

Methodological studies investigating transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) over the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (lDLPFC) in paediatric populations are limited. Therefore, we investigated in a paediatric population whether stimulation success of multichannel tDCS over the lDLPFC depends on concurrent task performance and individual head anatomy. In a randomised, sham-controlled, double-blind crossover study 22 healthy participants (10-17 years) received 2 mA multichannel anodal tDCS (atDCS) over the lDLPFC with and without a 2-back working memory (WM) task. After stimulation, the 2-back task and a Flanker task were performed. Resting state and task-related EEG were recorded. In 16 participants we calculated the individual electric field (E-field) distribution. Performance and neurophysiological activity in the 2-back task were not affected by atDCS. atDCS reduced reaction times in the Flanker task, independent of whether atDCS had been combined with the 2-back task. Flanker task related beta oscillation increased following stimulation without 2-back task performance. atDCS effects were not correlated with the E-field. We found no effect of multichannel atDCS over the lDLPFC on WM in children/adolescents but a transfer effect on interference control. While this effect on behaviour was independent of concurrent task performance, neurophysiological activity might be more sensitive to cognitive activation during stimulation. However, our results are limited by the small sample size, the lack of an active control group and variations in WM performance.


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