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Commercial tDCS headset impairs working memory

People show impaired memory after receiving low intensity electrical stimulation administered to the frontal part of the brain by a commercial, freely available, device, a new study shows.

Experimental Brain Research
August 2015,

Date: 18 Aug 2015

“Unfocus” on foc.us : commercial tDCS headset impairs working memory

Laura Steenbergen, Roberta Sellaro, Bernhard Hommel, Ulman Lindenberger, Simone Kühn, Lorenza S. Colzato

Abstract

In this study, we tested whether the commercial transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) headset foc.us improves cognitive performance, as advertised in the media. A single-blind, sham-controlled, within-subject design was used to assess the effect of online and off-line foc.us tDCS—applied over the prefrontal cortex in healthy young volunteers (n = 24) on working memory (WM) updating and monitoring. WM updating and monitoring, as assessed by means of the N-back task, is a cognitive-control process that has been shown to benefit from interventions with CE-certified tDCS devices. For both online and off-line stimulation protocols, results showed that active stimulation with foc.us, compared to sham stimulation, significantly decreased accuracy performance in a well-established task tapping WM updating and monitoring. These results provide evidence for the important role of the scientific community in validating and testing far-reaching claims made by the brain training industry.

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