Left parietal tACS at alpha frequency induces a shift of visuospatial attention

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Abstract

BACKGROUND: Voluntary shifts of visuospatial attention are associated with a lateralization of parieto-occipital alpha power (7-13Hz), i.e. higher power in the hemisphere ipsilateral and lower power contralateral to the locus of attention. Recent noninvasive neuromodulation studies demonstrated that alpha power can be experimentally increased using transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS).

OBJECTIVE/HYPOTHESIS: We hypothesized that tACS at alpha frequency over the left parietal cortex induces shifts of attention to the left hemifield. However, spatial attention shifts not only occur voluntarily (endogenous/ top-down), but also stimulus-driven (exogenous/ bottom-up). To study the task-specificity of the potential effects of tACS on attentional processes, we administered three conceptually different spatial attention tasks.

METHODS: 36 healthy volunteers were recruited from an academic environment. In two separate sessions, we applied either high-density tACS at 10Hz, or sham tACS, for 35-40 minutes to their left parietal cortex. We systematically compared performance on endogenous attention, exogenous attention, and stimulus detection tasks.

RESULTS: In the endogenous attention task, a greater leftward bias in reaction times was induced during left parietal 10Hz tACS as compared to sham. There were no stimulation effects in either the exogenous attention or the stimulus detection task.

CONCLUSION: The study demonstrates that high-density tACS at 10Hz can be used to modulate visuospatial attention performance. The tACS effect is task-specific, indicating that not all forms of attention are equally susceptible to the stimulation.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0217729
Number of pages25
JournalPLOS ONE
Volume14
Issue number11
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 27 Nov 2019

Keywords

  • ALTERNATING-CURRENT STIMULATION
  • VISUAL-SPATIAL ATTENTION
  • ELECTRICAL-STIMULATION
  • UNILATERAL NEGLECT
  • NEURAL ACTIVITY
  • 10 HZ
  • EEG
  • OSCILLATIONS
  • CORTEX
  • POWER

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