Effects of Anodal Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation Over the Ventrolateral Prefrontal Cortex on Episodic Memory Formation and Retrieval

Cereb Cortex. 2019 Feb 1;29(2):657-665. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhx347.


In the past decade, several studies have investigated the effects of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) on episodic memory abilities. However, the specific conditions under which tDCS affects memory remain largely unclear. Here, we report data from 4 experiments aimed at investigating the effects of anodal tDCS over the left ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (VLPFC) on verbal episodic memory. We evaluated tDCS-induced effects as a function of time of administration, nature of the memory encoding task, and age of the participants. A robust enhancement of memory performance was only found when anodal tDCS was delivered during intentional memorization. This enhancement was evident in young and older adults. tDCS applied during incidental memorization or during retrieval did not induce any modulation of memory performance, and memory was unaffected by offline administration before encoding or retrieval. These results show that the modulation of episodic memory functions by anodal tDCS over the left VLPFC is dependent upon the time of administration and the nature of the memory task. The findings may help profile the optimal stimulation protocols for neurorehabilitation interventions on individuals with memory decline.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory, Episodic*
  • Mental Recall / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation / methods
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology*
  • Random Allocation
  • Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation / methods*
  • Young Adult