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Using prefrontal transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) to enhance proactive cognitive control in schizophrenia


The goal of this study was to use transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) to examine the role of the prefrontal cortex (PFC) in neural oscillatory activity associated with proactive cognitive control in schizophrenia. To do so, we tested the impact of PFC-targeted tDCS on behavioral and electrophysiological markers of proactive cognitive control engagement in individuals with schizophrenia. Using a within-participants, double-blinded, sham-controlled crossover design, we recorded EEG while participants with schizophrenia completed a proactive cognitive control task (the Dot Pattern Expectancy (DPX) Task), after receiving 20 min of active prefrontal stimulation at 2 mA or sham stimulation. We hypothesized that active stimulation would enhance proactive cognitive control, leading to changes in behavioral performance on the DPX task and in activity in the gamma frequency band during key periods of the task designed to tax proactive cognitive control. The results showed significant changes in the pattern of error rates and increases in EEG gamma power as a function of tDCS condition (active or sham), that were indicative of enhanced proactive cognitive control. These findings, considered alongside our previous work in healthy adults, provides novel support for the role gamma oscillations in proactive cognitive control and they suggest that frontal tDCS may be a promising approach to enhance proactive cognitive control in schizophrenia.

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