Noninvasive brain stimulation improves language learning

  • Floeel A
  • Roesser N
  • Miichka O
 et al. 
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Anodal transcranial direct current Stimulation (tDCS) is a reliable
technique to improve motor learning. We here wanted to test its
potential to enhance associative verbal learning, a skill crucial for
both acquiring new languages in healthy individuals and for language
reacquisition after stroke-induced aphasia. We applied tDCS (20 min, 1
mA) over the posterior part of the left peri-sylvian area of 19 young
right-handed individuals while subjects acquired a miniature lexicon of
30 novel object names. Every subject participated in one session of
anodal tDCS, one session of cathodal tDCS, and one sham session in a
randomized and double-blinded design with three parallel versions of the
miniature lexicon. Outcome measures were learning speed and learning
success at the end of each session, and the transfer to the subjects'
native language after the respective stimulation. With anodal
stimulation, subjects showed faster and better associative learning as
compared to sham stimulation. Mood ratings, reaction times, and response
styles were comparable between stimulation conditions. Our results
demonstrate that anodal tDCS is a promising technique to enhance
language learning in healthy adults and may also have the potential to
improve language reacquisition after stroke.

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  • Agnes Floeel

  • Nina Roesser

  • Olesya Miichka

  • Stefan Knecht

  • Caterina Breitenstein

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