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Review
. 2016 Oct;123(10):1159-72.
doi: 10.1007/s00702-016-1558-x. Epub 2016 May 4.

The Effect of the Interval-Between-Sessions on Prefrontal Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) on Cognitive Outcomes: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

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Review

The Effect of the Interval-Between-Sessions on Prefrontal Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) on Cognitive Outcomes: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Josefien Dedoncker et al. J Neural Transm (Vienna). .

Abstract

Recently, there has been wide interest in the effects of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) on cognitive functioning. However, many methodological questions remain unanswered. One of them is whether the time interval between active and sham-controlled stimulation sessions, i.e. the interval between sessions (IBS), influences DLPFC tDCS effects on cognitive functioning. Therefore, a systematic review and meta-analysis was performed of experimental studies published in PubMed, Science Direct, and other databases from the first data available to February 2016. Single session sham-controlled within-subject studies reporting the effects of tDCS of the DLPFC on cognitive functioning in healthy controls and neuropsychiatric patients were included. Cognitive tasks were categorized in tasks assessing memory, attention, and executive functioning. Evaluation of 188 trials showed that anodal vs. sham tDCS significantly decreased response times and increased accuracy, and specifically for the executive functioning tasks, in a sample of healthy participants and neuropsychiatric patients (although a slightly different pattern of improvement was found in analyses for both samples separately). The effects of cathodal vs. sham tDCS (45 trials), on the other hand, were not significant. IBS ranged from less than 1 h to up to 1 week (i.e. cathodal tDCS) or 2 weeks (i.e. anodal tDCS). This IBS length had no influence on the estimated effect size when performing a meta-regression of IBS on reaction time and accuracy outcomes in all three cognitive categories, both for anodal and cathodal stimulation. Practical recommendations and limitations of the study are further discussed.

Keywords: Cognition; Dorsolateral prefrontal cortex; Meta-analysis; Noninvasive brain stimulation; Systematic review; Transcranial direct current stimulation.

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