Modulation of control: Can HD-tDCS targeting the dACC reduce impulsivity?

Ilse Verveer, Aron T. Hill, Ingmar H.A. Franken, Murat Yücel, Josanne D.M. van Dongen, Rebecca Segrave

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Background: The dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC) and its neurocircuits are central in impulsivity, and maladaptive dACC activity has been implicated in psychological disorders characterized by high trait impulsivity. High-Definition transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (HD-tDCS) is a non-invasive neuromodulation tool that, with certain electrode configurations, can be optimized for targeting deeper subcortical brain structures, such as the dACC. Objectives: Using behavioural and electrophysiological measures we investigated whether HD-tDCS targeting the dACC could modulate two key components of impulsivity, inhibitory control and error processing. Methods: Twenty-three healthy adults with high trait impulsivity participated in two experimental sessions. Participants received active or sham HD-tDCS in counterbalanced order with a wash-out period of at least 3 days, as part of a single-blind, cross-over design. EEG was recorded during the Go-NoGo task before, directly after, and 30 min after HD-tDCS. Results: HD-tDCS targeting the dACC did not affect inhibitory control performance on the Go-NoGo task, but there was evidence for a delayed change in underlying neurophysiological components of motor inhibition (NoGo P3) and error processing (error related negativity; ERN) after one session of HD-tDCS. Conclusion: HD-tDCS has potential to modulate underlying neurophysiological components of impulsivity. Future studies should further explore to what degree the dACC was affected and whether multi-session HD-tDCS has the capacity to also induce behavioural changes, particularly in clinical samples characterized by high trait impulsivity.

Original languageEnglish
Article number147282
Number of pages11
JournalBrain Research
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2021


  • dACC
  • Error processing
  • Go-NoGo
  • HD-tDCS
  • Impulsivity
  • Inhibitory control

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