Previous studies have demonstrated that transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) can be proficiently used to modulate attentional and cognitive functions. For instance, in the language domain there is evidence that tDCS can fasten picture naming in both healthy individuals and aphasic patients, or improve grammar learning. In this study, we investigated whether tDCS can be used to increase healthy subjects' performance in phonemic and semantic fluency tasks, that are typically used in clinical assessment of language. Ten healthy individuals performed a semantic and a phonemic fluency task following anodal tDCS applied over Broca's region. Each participant underwent a real and a sham tDCS session. Participants were found to produce more words following real anodal tDCS both in the phonemic and in the semantic fluency. Control experiments ascertained that this finding did not depend upon unspecific effects of tDCS over levels of general arousal or attention or upon participants' expectations. These data confirm the efficacy of tDCS in transiently improving language functions by showing that anodal stimulation of Broca's region can enhance verbal fluency. Implications of these results for the treatment of language functions in aphasia are considered.
Copyright © 2011 IBRO. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.