Episodic memory displays the largest degree of age-related decline. A noninvasive brain stimulation technique that can be used to modulate memory in physiological aging is transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS). However, an aspect that has not been adequately investigated in previous studies is the optimal timing of stimulation to induce long-lasting positive effects on episodic memory function. Our previous studies showed episodic memory enhancement in older adults when anodal tDCS was applied over the left lateral prefrontal cortex during encoding or after memory consolidation with or without a contextual reminder. Here we directly compared the two studies to explore which of the tDCS protocols would induce longer-lasting positive effects on episodic memory function in older adults. In addition, we aimed to determine whether subjective memory complaints would be related to the changes in memory performance (forgetting) induced by tDCS, a relevant issue in aging research since individuals with subjective memory complaints seem to be at higher risk of later memory decline. The results showed that anodal tDCS applied after consolidation with a contextual reminder induced longer-lasting positive effects on episodic memory, conceivably through reconsolidation, than anodal tDCS during encoding. Furthermore, we reported, providing new data, a moderate negative correlation between subjective memory complaints and forgetting when anodal tDCS was applied after consolidation with a contextual reminder. This study sheds light on the best-suited timing of stimulation to induce long-lasting positive effects on memory function and might help the clinicians to select the most effective tDCS protocol to prevent memory decline.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Behavioral Neuroscience