Good news regarding one of our papers, Impact of Anodal and Cathodal Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation over the Left Dorsolateral Prefrontal Cortex during Attention Bias Modification: An Eye-Tracking Study, which was published in PLOS One. The paper has been in the top 10% most cited paper from the entire year 2015! It’s always great to see that your work is being picked up by the community.
People with anxiety disorders show an attentional bias for threat (AB), and Attention Bias Modification (ABM) procedures have found to reduce this bias. However, the underlying processes accounting for this effect remain poorly understood. One explanation suggests that ABM requires the modification of attention control, driven by the recruitment of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC). In the present double-blind study, we examined whether modifying left DLPFC activation influences the effect of ABM on AB. We used transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) to directly modulate cortical excitability of the left DLPFC during an ABM procedure designed to reduce AB to threat. Anodal tDCS increases excitability, whereas cathodal tDCS decreases it. We randomly assigned highly trait-anxious individuals to one of three conditions: 1) ABM combined with cathodal tDCS, 2) ABM combined with anodal tDCS, or 3) ABM combined with sham tDCS. We assessed the effects of these manipulations on both reaction time and eye-movements on a task indexing AB. Results indicate that combining ABM and anodal tDCS over the left DLPFC reduces the total duration that participants’ gaze remains fixated on threat, as assessed during eye-tracking measurement. However, in contrast to previous studies, there were no changes in AB from baseline to post-training for participants that received ABM without tDCS. As the tendency to maintain attention to threat is known to play an important role in the maintenance of anxiety, the present findings suggest that anodal tDCS over the left DLPFC may be considered as a promising tool to reduce the maintenance of gaze to threat. Implications for future translational research combining ABM and tDCS are discussed.
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