DOI: 10.1177/03010066231215909 ISSN: 0301-0066

Using transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) to selectively modulate the face inversion effect and N170 event-related potentials

Ciro Civile, Emika Waguri, I.P.L. McLaren
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Sensory Systems
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Ophthalmology

We report a large study ( n = 72) using combined transcranial direct current stimulation-electroencephalography (tDCS-EEG) to investigate the modulation of perceptual learning indexed by the face inversion effect. Participants were engaged with an old/new recognition task involving intermixed upright and inverted, normal and Thatcherized faces. The accuracy results showed anodal tDCS delivered at the Fp3 scalp area (cathode/reference electrode placed at Fp2) increased the behavioural inversion effect for normal faces versus sham/control and this covaried with a modulation of the N170 event-related potential component. A reduced inversion effect for normal faces was found on the N170 latency and amplitude versus sham/control, extending recent work that combined tDCS and EEG in circumstances where the behavioural face inversion effect was reduced. Our results advance understanding of the neural mechanisms responsible for perceptual learning by revealing a dissociation between the N170 amplitude and latency in response to the tDCS-induced modulation of the face inversion effect. The behavioural modulation of the inversion effect tracks the modulation of the N170 amplitudes, albeit it is negatively correlated (i.e., reduced inversion effect—larger N170 amplitude inversion effect, increased inversion effect—reduced N170 amplitude inversion effect). For the N170 latencies, the inversion effect is reduced by the tDCS protocol we use irrespective of any modulation of the behavioural inversion effect.

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