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Enhancing performance in numerical magnitude processing and mental arithmetic using transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS)


Hauser, Tobias U; Rotzer, Stephanie; Grabner, Roland H; Mérillat, Susan; Jäncke, Lutz (2013). Enhancing performance in numerical magnitude processing and mental arithmetic using transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS). Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 7:244.

Abstract

The ability to accurately process numerical magnitudes and solve mental arithmetic is of highest importance for schooling and professional career. Although impairments in these domains in disorders such as developmental dyscalculia (DD) are highly detrimental, remediation is still sparse. In recent years, transcranial brain stimulation methods such as transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) have been suggested as a treatment for various neurologic and neuropsychiatric disorders. The posterior parietal cortex (PPC) is known to be crucially involved in numerical magnitude processing and mental arithmetic. In this study, we evaluated whether tDCS has a beneficial effect on numerical magnitude processing and mental arithmetic. Due to the unclear lateralization, we stimulated the left, right as well as both hemispheres simultaneously in two experiments. We found that left anodal tDCS significantly enhanced performance in a number comparison and a subtraction task, while bilateral and right anodal tDCS did not induce any improvements compared to sham. Our findings demonstrate that the left PPC is causally involved in numerical magnitude processing and mental arithmetic. Furthermore, we show that these cognitive functions can be enhanced by means of tDCS. These findings encourage to further investigate the beneficial effect of tDCS in the domain of mathematics in healthy and impaired humans.

Abstract

The ability to accurately process numerical magnitudes and solve mental arithmetic is of highest importance for schooling and professional career. Although impairments in these domains in disorders such as developmental dyscalculia (DD) are highly detrimental, remediation is still sparse. In recent years, transcranial brain stimulation methods such as transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) have been suggested as a treatment for various neurologic and neuropsychiatric disorders. The posterior parietal cortex (PPC) is known to be crucially involved in numerical magnitude processing and mental arithmetic. In this study, we evaluated whether tDCS has a beneficial effect on numerical magnitude processing and mental arithmetic. Due to the unclear lateralization, we stimulated the left, right as well as both hemispheres simultaneously in two experiments. We found that left anodal tDCS significantly enhanced performance in a number comparison and a subtraction task, while bilateral and right anodal tDCS did not induce any improvements compared to sham. Our findings demonstrate that the left PPC is causally involved in numerical magnitude processing and mental arithmetic. Furthermore, we show that these cognitive functions can be enhanced by means of tDCS. These findings encourage to further investigate the beneficial effect of tDCS in the domain of mathematics in healthy and impaired humans.

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23 citations in Web of Science®
29 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Center for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:2013
Deposited On:02 Sep 2013 12:55
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 16:57
Publisher:Frontiers Research Foundation
ISSN:1662-5161
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2013.00244
PubMed ID:23761750

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