No Effects of Anodal tDCS on Local GABA and Glx Levels in the Left Posterior Superior Temporal Gyrus
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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A number of studies investigating the biological effects of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) using magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) have found that it may affect local levels of γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA), glutamate and glutamine (commonly measured together as “Glx” in spectroscopy), and N-acetyl aspartate (NAA), however, these effects depend largely on the stimulation parameters used and the cortical area targeted. Given that different cortical areas may respond to stimulation in different ways, the purpose of this experiment was to assess the as yet unexplored biological effects of tDCS in the posterior superior temporal gyrus (pSTG), an area that has attracted some attention as a potential target for the treatment of auditory verbal hallucinations in schizophrenia patients. Biochemical changes were monitored using continuous, online MRS at a field strength of 3 Tesla. Performing intrascanner stimulation, with continuous spectroscopy before, during and after stimulation, permitted the assessment of acute effects of tDCS that would otherwise be lost when simply comparing pre- and post-stimulation differences. Twenty healthy participants underwent a repeated-measures experiment in which they received both active anodal and sham intrascanner stimulation in a stratified, randomized, double-blind experiment. No significant changes in GABA, Glx, or NAA levels were observed as a result of anodal stimulation, or between active and sham stimulation, suggesting that a single session of anodal tDCS to the pSTG may be less effective than in other cortical areas that have been similarly investigated.