Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation Improves Naming Reaction Time in Fluent Aphasia
A Double-Blind, Sham-Controlled Study
Background and Purpose—Previous evidence suggests that anodal transcranial direct current stimulation (A-tDCS) applied to the left hemisphere can improve aphasic participants’ ability to name common objects. The current study further examined this issue in a more tightly controlled experiment in participants with fluent aphasia.
Methods—We examined the effect of A-tDCS on reaction time during overt picture naming in 8 chronic stroke participants. Anode electrode placement targeted perilesional brain regions that showed the greatest activation on a pretreatment functional MRI scan administered during overt picture naming with the reference cathode electrode placed on the contralateral forehead. A-tDCS (1 mA; 20-minute) was compared with sham tDCS (S-tDCS) in a crossover design. Participants received 10 sessions of computerized anomia treatment; 5 sessions included A-tDCS and 5 included S-tDCS.
Results—Coupling A-tDCS with behavioral language treatment reduced reaction time during naming of trained items immediately posttreatment (Z=1.96, P=0.025) and at subsequent testing 3 weeks later (Z=2.52, P=0.006).
Conclusions—A-tDCS administered during language treatment decreased processing time during picture naming by fluent aphasic participants. Additional studies combining A-tDCS, an inexpensive method with no reported serious side effects, with behavioral language therapy are recommended.
- Received August 18, 2010.
- Revision received November 2, 2010.
- Accepted November 4, 2010.
- © 2011 American Heart Association, Inc.