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Enhancing cognitive performance with repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation at human individual alpha frequency

Authors

  • Wolfgang Klimesch,

    1. Department of Physiological Psychology, Institute of Psychology, University of Salzburg, Hellbrunnerstr. 34, A-5020 Salzburg, Austria
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  • Paul Sauseng,

    1. Department of Physiological Psychology, Institute of Psychology, University of Salzburg, Hellbrunnerstr. 34, A-5020 Salzburg, Austria
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  • Christian Gerloff

    1. Department of Neurology, Cortical Physiology Research Group, University of Tuebingen Medical School, Hoppe-Seyler-Str. 3, 72076 Tuebingen, Germany
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: Dr Wolfgang Klimesch, as above.
E-mail: wolfgang.klimesch@sbg.ac.at

Abstract

We applied rapid-rate repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) at individual alpha frequency (IAF) to improve cognitive performance by influencing the dynamics of alpha desynchronization. Previous research indicates that a large upper alpha power in a reference interval preceding a task is related to both large suppression of upper alpha power during the task and good performance. Here, we tested the hypothesis that rTMS at individual upper alpha frequency (IAF + 1 Hz) can enhance alpha power in the reference interval, and can thus improve task performance. Repetitive TMS was delivered to the mesial frontal (Fz) and right parietal (P6) cortex, and as sham condition with 90°-tilted coil (P6 position). The behavioural effect was assessed in a mental rotation task. Further control conditions were rTMS at a lower IAF (IAF − 3 Hz) and at 20 Hz. The results indicate that rTMS at IAF + 1 Hz can enhance task performance and, concomitantly, the extent of task-related alpha desynchronization. This provides further evidence for the functional relevance of oscillatory neuronal activity in the alpha band for the implementation of cognitive performance.

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