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Enhancing reappraisal of negative emotional memories with transcranial direct current stimulation


Doerig, Nadja; Seinsche, Rosa J; Moisa, Marius; Seifritz, Erich; Ruff, Christian C; Kleim, Birgit (2021). Enhancing reappraisal of negative emotional memories with transcranial direct current stimulation. Scientific Reports, 11(14760):online.

Abstract

Reappraisal of negative memories and experiences is central for mental health and well-being. Deficiency of reappraisal lies at the core of many psychiatric disorders and is a key target for treatment. Here we apply transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) to enhance reappraisal of negative emotional memories. In a randomised, sham-controlled, 2 × 2 between-subject and double-blinded study, we applied single sessions of anodal and sham tDCS over the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC) of 101 healthy participants while reappraising a personal negative memory or engaging in a control task. We hypothesised that (i) reappraisal decreases negative valence, arousal and evaluations of the memory and leads to improved decision making, and (ii) tDCS leads to additional changes in these reappraisal outcomes. In line with these hypotheses, participants’ personal memories were rated as less negative and less arousing following reappraisal. Anodal tDCS during reappraisal was associated with significant short-term reductions in negative valence compared to sham stimulation. Our results indicate that tDCS may enhance some of the effects of reappraisal. If replicated, our findings suggest potential benefits elicited by tDCS stimulation that may help optimise current treatment approaches for psychiatric disorders.

Abstract

Reappraisal of negative memories and experiences is central for mental health and well-being. Deficiency of reappraisal lies at the core of many psychiatric disorders and is a key target for treatment. Here we apply transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) to enhance reappraisal of negative emotional memories. In a randomised, sham-controlled, 2 × 2 between-subject and double-blinded study, we applied single sessions of anodal and sham tDCS over the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC) of 101 healthy participants while reappraising a personal negative memory or engaging in a control task. We hypothesised that (i) reappraisal decreases negative valence, arousal and evaluations of the memory and leads to improved decision making, and (ii) tDCS leads to additional changes in these reappraisal outcomes. In line with these hypotheses, participants’ personal memories were rated as less negative and less arousing following reappraisal. Anodal tDCS during reappraisal was associated with significant short-term reductions in negative valence compared to sham stimulation. Our results indicate that tDCS may enhance some of the effects of reappraisal. If replicated, our findings suggest potential benefits elicited by tDCS stimulation that may help optimise current treatment approaches for psychiatric disorders.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Economics
Dewey Decimal Classification:330 Economics
Scopus Subject Areas:Health Sciences > Multidisciplinary
Uncontrolled Keywords:Cognitive neuroscience, human behaviour
Language:English
Date:20 July 2021
Deposited On:25 Aug 2021 10:41
Last Modified:28 Aug 2021 19:32
Publisher:Nature Publishing Group
ISSN:2045-2322
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-93647-1
Project Information:
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant ID10001C_169827
  • : Project TitleOptimising outcomes in psychotherapy for anxiety disorders (OPTIMAX)

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