Working memory impairment in schizophrenia has been strongly associated with abnormalities in gamma oscillations within the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLFPC). We recently published the first ever study showing that anodal transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) to the left DLPFC was able to significantly improve working memory in schizophrenia and did so seemingly via restoring normal gamma oscillatory function. Transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS) is a form of electrical brain stimulation that delivers stimulation at a specific frequency and has been shown to entrain endogenous cortical oscillations. Therefore, gamma (γ) tACS may be even more effective than tDCS in improving working memory in schizophrenia. In a randomized repeated-measures study we compared the effects of γ-tACS, tDCS and sham stimulation on the performance of the two back working memory tasks in ten patients with schizophrenia. There was a significant time by stimulation interaction, with tDCS and sham showing trend-level improvements in working memory, while γ-tACS, contrary to our hypothesis, showed no change. The results are discussed in light of posited divergent effects of tACS and tDCS on the pathophysiology of working memory impairment in schizophrenia.
- Working memory