Task load modulates tDCS effects on brain network for phonological processing

Lílian Rodrigues de Almeida, Paul A Pope, Peter C Hansen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
115 Downloads (Pure)


Motor participation in phonological processing can be modulated by task nature across the speech perception to speech production range. The pars opercularis of the left inferior frontal gyrus (LIFG) would be increasingly active across this range, because of changing motor demands. Here, we investigated with simultaneous tDCS and fMRI whether the task load modulation of tDCS effects translates into predictable patterns of functional connectivity. Findings were analysed under the "multi-node framework", according to which task load and the network structure underlying cognitive functions are modulators of tDCS effects. In a within-subject study, participants (N = 20) performed categorical perception, lexical decision and word naming tasks [which differentially recruit the target of stimulation (LIFG)], which were repeatedly administered in three tDCS sessions (anodal, cathodal and sham). The LIFG, left superior temporal gyrus and their right homologues formed the target network subserving phonological processing. C-tDCS inhibition and A-tDCS excitation should increase with task load. Correspondingly, the larger the task load, the larger the relevance of the target for the task and smaller the room for compensation of C-tDCS inhibition by less relevant nodes. Functional connectivity analyses were performed with partial correlations, and network compensation globally inferred by comparing the relative number of significant connections each condition induced relative to sham. Overall, simultaneous tDCS and fMRI was adequate to show that motor participation in phonological processing is modulated by task nature. Network responses induced by C-tDCS across phonological processing tasks matched predictions. A-tDCS effects were attributed to optimisation of network efficiency.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)341-363
JournalCognitive Processing
Issue number3
Early online date10 Mar 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 10 Mar 2020


  • LIFG
  • Language
  • Phonological processing
  • Task load
  • fMRI
  • tDCS


Dive into the research topics of 'Task load modulates tDCS effects on brain network for phonological processing'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this