Transcranial direct current stimulation applied after encoding facilitates episodic memory consolidation in older adults: Neurobiology of Learning and Memory

M. Sandrini, R. Manenti, E. Gobbi, D. Rusich, G. Bartl, M. Cotelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Episodic memory shows the largest degree of age-related memory decline. There is evidence that consolidation, the process that stabilizes memories after encoding, is reduced in older adults. Previous studies have shown that transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) applied during intentional encoding or immediately after a contextual reminder enhanced delayed episodic memory performance, suggesting a potential interaction between tDCS and consolidation or reconsolidation processes. The present randomized, double-blind, sham-controlled study addressed the question whether tDCS applied immediately after verbal encoding enhances episodic memory recall through consolidation in healthy older adults. Twenty-eight participants received tDCS (Active or Sham) over the prefrontal cortex (anode over the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and cathode over the contralateral supraorbital region), a brain region contributing to episodic memory function. Verbal recall was tested two days and one month later. The results showed that recall performance at one month was enhanced in the Active tDCS group relative to the Sham group. These findings suggest that tDCS applied off-line immediately after encoding over the prefrontal cortex interacts with the processes promoting consolidation of episodic memories in healthy older adults. Targeting consolidation by means of tDCS might be a novel strategy for reducing episodic memory decline. © 2019 Elsevier Inc.
Original languageEnglish
Article number107037
JournalNeurobiol. Learn. Mem.
Publication statusPublished - 2019



  • Aging
  • Consolidation
  • Enhancement
  • Episodic memory
  • Prefrontal cortex
  • tDCS
  • aged
  • Article
  • controlled study
  • double blind procedure
  • episodic memory
  • female
  • human
  • human experiment
  • male
  • memory consolidation
  • memory test
  • normal human
  • prefrontal cortex
  • randomized controlled trial
  • transcranial direct current stimulation
  • verbal memory
  • word recognition

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