Effects of Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation on Episodic Memory Related to Emotional Visual Stimuli
Di Domenico, Alberto
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AbstractThe present study investigated emotional memory following bilateral transcranial electrical stimulation (direct current of 1 mA, for 20 minutes) over fronto-temporal cortical areas of healthy participants during the encoding of images that differed in affective arousal and valence. The main result was a significant interaction between the side of anodal stimulation and image emotional valence. Specifically, right anodal/left cathodal stimulation selectively facilitated the recall of pleasant images with respect to both unpleasant and neutral images whereas left anodal/right cathodal stimulation selectively facilitated the recall of unpleasant images with respect to both pleasant and neutral images. From a theoretical perspective, this double dissociation between the side of anodal stimulation and the advantage in the memory performance for a specific type of stimulus depending on its pleasantness supported the specific-valence hypothesis of emotional processes, which assumes a specialization of the right hemisphere in processing unpleasant stimuli and a specialization of the left hemisphere in processing pleasant stimuli. From a methodological point of view, first we found tDCS effects strictly dependent on the stimulus category, and second a pattern of results in line with an interfering and inhibitory account of anodal stimulation on memory performance. These findings need to be carefully considered in applied contexts, such as the rehabilitation of altered emotional processing or eye-witness memory, and deserve to be further investigated in order to understand their underlying mechanisms of action.