Stimulation of the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex with slow rTMS enhances verbal memory formation

van der Plas, M. , Braun, V., Stauch, B. and Hanslmayr, S. (2021) Stimulation of the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex with slow rTMS enhances verbal memory formation. PLoS Biology, 19(9), e3001363. (doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.3001363) (PMID:34582432) (PMCID:PMC8478201)

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Encoding of episodic memories relies on stimulus-specific information processing and involves the left prefrontal cortex. We here present an incidental finding from a simultaneous EEG-TMS experiment as well as a replication of this unexpected effect. Our results reveal that stimulating the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) with slow repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) leads to enhanced word memory performance. A total of 40 healthy human participants engaged in a list learning paradigm. Half of the participants (N = 20) received 1 Hz rTMS to the left DLPFC, while the other half (N = 20) received 1 Hz rTMS to the vertex and served as a control group. Participants receiving left DLPFC stimulation demonstrated enhanced memory performance compared to the control group. This effect was replicated in a within-subjects experiment where 24 participants received 1 Hz rTMS to the left DLPFC and vertex. In this second experiment, DLPFC stimulation also induced better memory performance compared to vertex stimulation. In addition to these behavioural effects, we found that 1 Hz rTMS to DLPFC induced stronger beta power modulation in posterior areas, a state that is known to be beneficial for memory encoding. Further analysis indicated that beta modulations did not have an oscillatory origin. Instead, the observed beta modulations were a result of a spectral tilt, suggesting inhibition of these parietal regions. These results show that applying 1 Hz rTMS to DLPFC, an area involved in episodic memory formation, improves memory performance via modulating neural activity in parietal regions.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Hanslmayr, Professor Simon and van der Plas, Mr Mircea
Creator Roles:
van der Plas, M.Formal analysis, Investigation, Methodology, Software, Writing – original draft
Hanslmayr, S.Conceptualization, Data curation, Funding acquisition, Investigation, Resources, Supervision, Writing – review and editing
Authors: van der Plas, M., Braun, V., Stauch, B., and Hanslmayr, S.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Psychology & Neuroscience
Journal Name:PLoS Biology
Publisher:Public Library of Science
ISSN (Online):1545-7885
Published Online:28 September 2021
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2021 van der Plas et al.
First Published:First published in PLoS Biology 19(9): e3001363
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License
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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
313261Neural oscillations - a code for memorySimon HanslmayrEuropean Commission (EC)N/ANP - Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging (CCNi)
314597TIME - GLUING CROSS-MODAL MEMORIES VIA SYNCHRONISATIONSimon HanslmayrEconomic and Social Research Council (ESRC)ES/R010072/2NP - Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging (CCNi)