Theta tACS impairs episodic memory more than tDCS

Nicholas W. G. Murray*, Petra L. Graham, Paul F. Sowman, Greg Savage

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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Episodic memory deficits are a common consequence of aging and are associated with a number of neurodegenerative disorders (e.g., Alzheimer's disease). Given the importance of episodic memory, a great deal of research has investigated how we can improve memory performance. Transcranial electrical stimulation (TES) represents a promising tool for memory enhancement but the optimal stimulation parameters that reliably boost memory are yet to be determined. In our double-blind, randomised, sham-controlled study, 42 healthy adults (36 females; 23.3 ± 7.7 years of age) received anodal transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), theta transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS) and sham stimulation during a list-learning task, over three separate sessions. Stimulation was applied over the left temporal lobe, as encoding and recall of information is typically associated with mesial temporal lobe structures (e.g., the hippocampus and entorhinal cortex). We measured word recall within each stimulation session, as well as the average number of intrusion and repetition errors. In terms of word recall, participants recalled fewer words during tDCS and tACS, compared to sham stimulation, and significantly fewer words recalled during tACS compared with tDCS. Significantly more memory errors were also made during tACS compared with sham stimulation. Overall, our findings suggest that TES has a deleterious effect on memory processes when applied to the left temporal lobe.

Original languageEnglish
Article number716
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jan 2023

Bibliographical note

© 2023. The Author(s). Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


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