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Combining HF rTMS over the Left DLPFC with Concurrent Cognitive Activity for the Offline Modulation of Working Memory in Healthy Volunteers: A Proof-of-Concept Study

1
Research Center of Neurology, Volokolamskoe shosse, 80, Moscow 125367, Russia
2
Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology, Bolshoy Boulevard, 30, bld. 1, territory of innovation center «Skolkovo», Moscow 121205, Russia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(2), 83; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10020083
Received: 27 December 2019 / Revised: 31 January 2020 / Accepted: 3 February 2020 / Published: 4 February 2020
(This article belongs to the Section Cognitive Neuroscience)
It has been proposed that the effectiveness of non-invasive brain stimulation (NIBS) as a cognitive enhancement technique may be enhanced by combining the stimulation with concurrent cognitive activity. However, the benefits of such a combination in comparison to protocols without ongoing cognitive activity have not yet been studied. In the present study, we investigate the effects of fMRI-guided high-frequency repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (HF rTMS) over the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) on working memory (WM) in healthy volunteers, using an n-back task with spatial and verbal stimuli and a spatial span task. In two combined protocols (TMS + WM + (maintenance) and TMS + WM + (rest)) trains of stimuli were applied in the maintenance and rest periods of the modified Sternberg task, respectively. We compared them to HF rTMS without a cognitive load (TMS + WM-) and control stimulation (TMS – WM + (maintenance)). No serious adverse effects appeared in this study. Among all protocols, significant effects on WM were shown only for the TMS + WM- with oppositely directed influences of this protocol on storage and manipulation in spatial WM. Moreover, there was a significant difference between the effects of TMS + WM- and TMS + WM + (maintenance), suggesting that simultaneous cognitive activity does not necessarily lead to an increase in TMS effects.
Keywords: working memory; non-invasive brain stimulation; transcranial magnetic stimulation; neuromodulation; cognitive function; cognitive training; N-back task; dorsolateral prefrontal cortex; cognitive enhancement working memory; non-invasive brain stimulation; transcranial magnetic stimulation; neuromodulation; cognitive function; cognitive training; N-back task; dorsolateral prefrontal cortex; cognitive enhancement
MDPI and ACS Style

Bakulin, I.; Zabirova, A.; Lagoda, D.; Poydasheva, A.; Cherkasova, A.; Pavlov, N.; Kopnin, P.; Sinitsyn, D.; Kremneva, E.; Fedorov, M.; Gnedovskaya, E.; Suponeva, N.; Piradov, M. Combining HF rTMS over the Left DLPFC with Concurrent Cognitive Activity for the Offline Modulation of Working Memory in Healthy Volunteers: A Proof-of-Concept Study. Brain Sci. 2020, 10, 83.

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