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Relaxing learned constraints through cathodal tDCS on the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex

Luft, Caroline Di Bernardi; Zioga, Ioanna; Banissy, Michael J. and Bhattacharya, Joydeep. 2017. Relaxing learned constraints through cathodal tDCS on the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. Scientific Reports, 7(2916), pp. 1-8. ISSN 2045-2322 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

We solve problems by applying previously learned rules. The dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) plays a pivotal role in automating this process of rule induction. Despite its usual efficiency, this process fails when we encounter new problems in which past experience leads to a mental rut. Learned rules could therefore act as constraints which need to be removed in order to change the problem representation for producing the solution. We investigated the possibility of suppressing the DLPFC by transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) to facilitate such representational change. Participants solved matchstick arithmetic problems before and after receiving cathodal, anodal or sham tDCS to the left DLPFC. Participants who received cathodal tDCS were more likely to solve the problems that require the maximal relaxation of previously learned constraints than the participants who received anodal or sham tDCS. We conclude that cathodal tDCS over the left DLPFC might facilitate the relaxation of learned constraints, leading to a successful representational change.

Item Type:

Article

Identification Number (DOI):

https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-03022-2

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Psychology

Dates:

DateEvent
7 June 2017Published
28 April 2017Accepted

Item ID:

20576

Date Deposited:

16 Jun 2017 14:52

Last Modified:

01 Aug 2018 09:03

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.

URI:

http://research.gold.ac.uk/id/eprint/20576

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