In this study, we explored the representation of an incongruent action (instrumentally incorrect use of an object) in comparison with sentences ending with an incongruent action word, taking into account the role of the activation of the left dorsolateral pFC (DLPFC). This activity was appositely modulated by transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS). The effect of tDCS when participants processed congruent/incongruent object-related actions (Experiment 1) or sentences (Experiment 2) was verified by measuring changes in the ERP N400, error rates (ERs), and RTs. In Experiment 1, 30 participants performed the detection task within a dynamic context (video tapes representing a sequence of four action frames). In Experiment 2, 28 participants read sentences that represented object-related actions. The stimulation effect (a cathode applied to the DLPFC and an anode to the right supraorbital region) was analyzed by comparing the ER, RT, and ERP profiles before and after stimulation (or sham treatment). A significant reduction of the N400 was observed for incongruent stimuli in the case of cathodal (inhibitory) stimulation of the DLPFC in comparison with prestimulation conditions for Experiment 1, but not Experiment 2. Moreover, ERs were increased, and RTs were reduced in response to incongruent conditions after tDCS, but not after sham stimulation in Experiment 1. It is suggested that perturbation of the DLPFC may limit the ability to analyze a semantically anomalous action sequence as a reduced N400 ERP effect and increased random responses was observed. Finally, the contribution of the frontal area to the semantic processing of actions is discussed.

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