Ageing is associated with declines in voluntary eye movement control, which negatively impact the performance of daily activities. Therapies treating saccadic eye movement control deficits are currently lacking. To address the need for an effective therapy to treat age-related deficits in saccadic eye movement control, the current study investigated whether saccadic behaviour in older adults can be improved by anodal transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) over the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex using a montage that has been proven to be effective at improving nonoculomotor control functions. Method:
The tDCS protocol entailed a 5 cm × 7 cm anodal electrode and an encephalic cathodal reference electrode positioned over the contralateral supraorbital area. In two experiments, healthy older men completed one active (1.5 mA current for 10 min) and one sham stimulation session, with the session order counterbalanced across participants, and eye movement testing following stimulation. In the first experiment, participants rested during the tDCS (offline), whereas in the follow-up experiment, participants engaged in antisaccades during the tDCS (online). Results:
Analyses revealed improvements in saccadic performance following active anodal tDCS relative to sham stimulation in the online experiment, but not in the offline experiment, which was presumably due to the activation of the relevant networks during tDCS promoting more targeted effects. Discussion:
These outcomes converge with findings pertaining to nonoculomotor cognitive functions, and provide evidence that tDCS can improve saccadic eye movement control in older adults.
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