Aging, sex and cognitive Theory of Mind: a transcranial direct current stimulation study: Scientific Reports

M. Adenzato, R. Manenti, E. Gobbi, I. Enrici, D. Rusich, M. Cotelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aging is accompanied by changes in cognitive abilities and a great interest is spreading among researchers about aging impact on social cognition skills, such as the Theory of Mind (ToM). Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) has been used in social cognition studies founding evidence of sex-related different effects on cognitive ToM task in a young people sample. In this randomized, double-blind, sham-controlled study, we applied one active and one sham tDCS session on the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) during a cognitive ToM task, including both social (i.e., communicative) and nonsocial (i.e., private) intention attribution conditions, in sixty healthy aging individuals (30 males and 30 females). In half of the participants the anode was positioned over the mPFC, whereas in the other half the cathode was positioned over the mPFC. The results showed that: (i) anodal tDCS over the mPFC led to significant slower reaction times (vs. sham) for social intention attribution task only in female participants; (ii) No effects were found in both females and males during cathodal stimulation. We show for the first time sex-related differences in cognitive ToM abilities in healthy aging, extending previous findings concerning young participants. © 2019, The Author(s).
Original languageEnglish
Article number18064
JournalSci. Rep.
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • adult
  • article
  • double blind procedure
  • female
  • healthy aging
  • human
  • human experiment
  • major clinical study
  • male
  • medial prefrontal cortex
  • randomized controlled trial
  • reaction time
  • theory of mind
  • transcranial direct current stimulation


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