No effect of transcranial direct current stimulation of the auditory cortex on auditory-evoked potentials

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Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is a non-invasive brain stimulation technique to change cortical excitability. Its effects are shown for cognitive processing, and behavior in the motor and perceptual domains. However, evidence of tDCS effects in the perceptual domain particularly for auditory processing is rare. Therefore, and in the context of disturbances in auditory processing in psychiatric populations, e.g., in patients with auditory verbal hallucinations, we aimed to investigate the potential modulatory effect of tDCS on the excitability of left posterior temporal cortex in detail. We included 24 healthy participants in a crossover design, applying sham and anodal stimulation in two measurement sessions 1 week apart. Electroencephalography (EEG) was recorded while participants listened to tones before, during, and after stimulation. Amplitudes and latencies of P50, N100, and P200 auditory-evoked potentials (AEP) were compared between anodal and sham stimulation, and between time points before, during, and after tDCS. In contrast to previous studies, results demonstrate no significant differences between stimulation types or time points for any of the investigated AEP amplitudes or latencies. Furthermore, a topographical analysis did not show any topographical differences during peak time periods of the investigated AEP for stimulation types and time points besides a habituation effect. Thus, our results suggest that tDCS modulation of excitability of the left posterior temporal cortex, targeting the auditory cortex, does not have any effect on AEP. This is particularly interesting in the context of tDCS as a potential treatment for changed electrophysiological parameters and symptoms of psychiatric diseases, e.g., lower N100 or auditory verbal hallucinations in schizophrenia.




Kunzelmann, K., Meier, L., Grieder, M., Morishima, Y., & Dierks, T. (2018). No effect of transcranial direct current stimulation of the auditory cortex on auditory-evoked potentials. Frontiers in Neuroscience, 12(NOV).

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