Testing the immediate effects of transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) on face recognition skills.

AbstractIn the present study, we tested the effects of anodal tDCS delivered over the Fp3 (for 10mins at 1.5mA) on the face inversion effect (better recognition for upright vs inverted faces) while participants performed an old/new recognition task. We recruited three groups of participants (n=72) and randomly assigned them to experimental conditions. In the anodal Study Phase condition participants received the tDCS stimulation during the learning phase only. In the anodal Recognition Phase condition, participants received the anodal stimulation during the recognition task only. In the control group participants received sham stimulation (during the study or recognition phase). Consistent with previous research, the results showed that anodal stimulation reduced the inversion effect by impairing recognition of upright faces. Critically, in both anodal conditions the inversion effect was significantly reduced compared to sham, and no difference was found between the two anodal conditions. Upright faces in each anodal condition were recognized significantly worse than sham. This suggests that the tDCS-induced effects on face recognition are immediate and affect both learning and performance. We interpret the results based on the account of perceptual learning and previous work on tDCS and the inversion effect.

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