Abstract

One of the multiple interacting systems involved in the selection and execution of voluntary actions is the primary motor cortex (PMC). We aimed to investigate whether the transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) of this area can modulate hand choice. A perceptual decision-making task was administered. Participants were asked to classify rectangles with different height-to-width ratios into horizontal and vertical rectangles using their right and left index fingers while their PMC was stimulated either bilaterally or unilaterally. Two experiments were conducted with different stimulation conditions: the first experiment (n = 12) had only one stimulation condition (bilateral stimulation), and the second experiment (n = 45) had three stimulation conditions (bilateral, anodal unilateral, and cathodal unilateral stimulations). The second experiment was designed to confirm the results of the first experiment and to further investigate the effects of anodal and cathodal stimulations alone in the observed effects. Each participant took part in two sessions. The laterality of stimulation was reversed over the two sessions. Our results showed that anodal stimulation of the PMC biases participants' responses toward using the contralateral hand whereas cathodal stimulation biases responses toward the ipsilateral hand. Brain stimulation also modulated the RT of the left hand in all stimulation conditions: Responses were faster when the response bias was in favor of the left hand and slower when the response bias was against it. We propose two possible explanations for these findings: the perceptual bias account (bottom–up effects of stimulation on perception) and the motor-choice bias account (top–down modulation of the decision-making system by facilitation of response in one hand over the other). We conclude that motor responses and the choice of hand can be modulated using tDCS.

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