Transcranial direct current stimulation applied after encoding facilitates episodic memory consolidation in older adults

Marco Sandrini, Rosa Manenti, Elena Gobbi, Danila Rusich, Gergely Bartl, Maria Cotelli

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Abstract

Episodic memory shows the largest degree of age-related memory decline. There is evidence that consolidation, the process that stabilizes memories after encoding, is reduced in older adults. Previous studies have shown that transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) applied during intentional encoding or immediately after a contextual reminder enhanced delayed episodic memory performance, suggesting a potential interaction between tDCS and consolidation or reconsolidation processes.
The present randomized, double-blind, sham-controlled study addressed the question whether tDCS applied immediately after verbal encoding enhances episodic memory recall through consolidation in healthy older adults. Twenty-eight participants received tDCS (active or sham) over the prefrontal cortex (anode over the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and cathode over the contralateral supraorbital region), a brain region contributing to episodic memory function. Verbal recall was tested two days and one month later.
The results showed that recall performance at one month was enhanced in the active tDCS group relative to the sham group.
These findings suggest that tDCS applied off-line immediately after encoding over the prefrontal cortex interacts with the processes promoting consolidation of episodic memories in healthy older adults. Targeting consolidation by means of tDCS might be a novel strategy for reducing episodic memory decline.

© 2019, Elsevier. The attached document (embargoed until 13/06/2020) is an author produced version of a paper published in NEUROBIOLOGY OF LEARNING AND MEMORY uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self- archiving policy. The final published version (version of record) is available online at the link. Some minor differences between this version and the final published version may remain. We suggest you refer to the final published version should you wish to cite from it.
Original languageEnglish
JournalNeurobiology of Learning and Memory
Volume163
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jun 2019

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