Short-Term Impact of tDCS Over the Right Inferior Frontal Cortex on Impulsive Responses in a Go/No-go Task


Inhibitory control, a process deeply studied in laboratory settings, refers to the ability to inhibit an action once it has been initiated. A common way to process data in such tasks is to take the mean response time (RT) and error rate per participant. However, such an analysis ignores the strong dependency between spontaneous RT variations and error rate. Conditional accuracy function (CAF) is of particular interest, as by plotting the probability of a response to be correct as a function of its latency, it provides a means for studying the strength of impulsive responses associated with a higher frequency of fast response errors. This procedure was applied to a recent set of data in which the right inferior frontal gyrus (rIFG) was modulated using transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS). Healthy participants (n = 40) were presented with a "Go/No-go" task (click on letter M, not on letter W, session 1). Then, one subgroup (n = 20) was randomly assigned to one 20-minutes neuromodulation session with tDCS (anodal electrode, rIFG; cathodal electrode, neck); and the other group (n = 20) to a condition with sham (placebo) tDCS. All participants were finally confronted to the same "Go/No-go" task (session 2). The rate of commission errors (click on W) and speed of response to Go trials were similar between sessions 1 and 2 in both neuromodulation groups. However, CAF showed that active tDCS over rIFG leads to a reduction of the drop in accuracy for fast responses (suggesting less impulsivity and greater inhibitory efficiency), this effect being only visible for the first experimental block following tDCS stimulation. Overall, the present data indicate that boosting the rIFG may be useful to enhance inhibitory skills, but that CAF could be of the greatest relevance to monitor the temporal dynamics of the neuromodulation effect.

Keywords: conditional accuracy function (CAF); impulsive errors; inhibition; right inferior frontal gyrus; tDCS.

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