Abstract

Studies have shown that transcranial direct current stimulation increases neuronal excitability of the targeted region and general connectivity of relevant functional networks. However, relatively little is understood on how the stimulation affects the connectivity relationship of the target with regions across the network structure of the brain. Here, we investigated the effects of transcranial direct current stimulation on the functional connectivity of the targeted region using resting-state fMRI scans of the human brain. Anodal direct current stimulation was applied to the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (lDLPFC; cathode on the right bicep), which belongs to the frontoparietal control network (FPCN) and is commonly targeted for neuromodulation of various cognitive functions including short-term memory, long-term memory, and cognitive control. lDLPFC's connectivity characteristics were quantified as graph theory measures, from the resting-state fMRI scans obtained prior to and following the stimulation. Critically, we tested pre- to poststimulation changes of the lDLPFC connectivity metrics following an active versus sham stimulation. We found that the stimulation had two distinct effects on the connectivity of lDLPFC: for Brodmann's area (BA) 9, it increased the functional connectivity between BA 9 and other nodes within the FPCN; for BA 46, net connectivity strength was not altered within FPCN, but connectivity distribution across networks (participation coefficient) was decreased. These findings provide insights that the behavioral changes as the functional consequences of stimulation may come about because of the increased role of lDLPFC in the FPCN.

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