The effects of left DLPFC tDCS on emotion regulation, biased attention, and emotional reactivity to negative content

Patrick J.F. Clarke, Bram Van Bockstaele, Welber Marinovic, Joel A. Howell, Mark E. Boyes, Lies Notebaert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The potentiation of neural activity in lateral prefrontal regions via transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) can reduce patterns of biased attention for threat and may facilitate intentional emotion regulation. The current study sought to determine whether left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex tDCS, in combination with intentional down-regulation of emotional responses would reduce negative appraisals of aversive content during emotional regulation (assessed during online tDCS), reduce patterns of biased attention and attention bias variability (assessed offline), and attenuate spontaneous (uninstructed) emotional reactivity to negative content (assessed offline) above tDCS or intentional down-regulation of emotions in isolation. Healthy participants (n = 116) were allocated to one of four experimental conditions involving either active or sham tDCS, combined with an either a down-regulate or maintain emotion regulation task. Attention bias/bias variability was assessed with an attentional probe task, and emotional reactivity was assessed in a negative video viewing task. tDCS did not affect the appraisals of negative stimuli during emotion regulation, and there were no effects on attention bias/bias variability. However, tDCS did attenuate emotional reactivity. Those receiving active stimulation showed smaller elevations in negative mood in response to viewing aversive video content compared with sham. The present findings are consistent with the potential of left frontal tDCS to attenuate negative emotional reactions to aversive content but provide no support for tDCS enhancement of emotion regulation, nor its impact on attention bias or attention bias variability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1323-1335
JournalCognitive, Affective and Behavioral Neuroscience
Volume20
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020

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