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The impact of cognitive load on the spatial deployment of visual attention : testing the role of interhemispheric balance with biparietal transcranial direct current stimulation

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In healthy individuals, increasing cognitive load induces an asymmetric deployment of visuospatial attention, which favors the right visual space. To date, the neural mechanisms of this left/right attentional asymmetry are poorly understood. The aim of the present study was thus to investigate whether a left/right asymmetry under high cognitive load is due to a shift in the interhemispheric balance between the left and right posterior parietal cortices (PPCs), favoring the left PPC. To this end, healthy participants completed a visuospatial attention detection task under low and high cognitive load, whilst undergoing biparietal transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS). Three different tDCS conditions were applied in a within-subjects design: sham, anodal left/cathodal right, and cathodal left/anodal right stimulation. The results revealed a left/right attentional asymmetry under high cognitive load in the sham condition. This asymmetry disappeared during cathodal left/anodal right tDCS, yet was not influenced by anodal left/cathodal right tDCS. There were no left/right asymmetries under low cognitive load in any of the conditions. Overall, these findings demonstrate that attentional asymmetries under high cognitive load can be modulated in a polarity-specific fashion by means of tDCS. They thus support the assumption that load-related asymmetries in visuospatial attention are influenced by interhemispheric balance mechanisms between the left and right PPCs.
Tijdschrift: Frontiers in Neuroscience
Volume: 13
Aantal pagina's: 1
Jaar van publicatie:2020
Trefwoorden:Neurowetenschappen en Psychofarmacologie