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Effects of High-Definition Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation and Theta Burst Stimulation for Modulating the Posterior Parietal Cortex

  • Tian Gan (a1) (a2) (a3), Stevan Nikolin (a1), Colleen K. Loo (a1) (a2) (a4) and Donel M. Martin (a1) (a2)


Objectives: Noninvasive brain stimulation methods, including high-definition transcranial direct current stimulation (HD-tDCS) and theta burst stimulation (TBS) have emerged as novel tools to modulate and explore brain function. However, the relative efficacy of these newer stimulation approaches for modulating cognitive functioning remains unclear. This study investigated the cognitive effects of HD-tDCS, intermittent TBS (iTBS) and prolonged continuous TBS (ProcTBS) and explored the potential of these approaches for modulating hypothesized functions of the left posterior parietal cortex (PPC). Methods: Twenty-two healthy volunteers attended four experimental sessions in a cross-over experimental design. In each session, participants either received HD-tDCS, iTBS, ProcTBS or sham, and completed cognitive tasks, including a divided attention task, a working memory maintenance task and an attention task (emotional Stroop test). Results: The results showed that compared to sham, HD-tDCS, iTBS and ProcTBS caused significantly faster response times on the emotional Stroop task. The effect size (Cohen’s d) was d = .32 for iTBS (p < .001), .21 for ProcTBS (p = .01) and .15 for HD-tDCS (p = .044). However, for the performance on the divided attention and working memory maintenance tasks, no significant effect of stimulation was found. Conclusions: The results suggest that repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation techniques, including TBS, may have greater efficacy for modulating cognition compared with HD-tDCS, and extend existing knowledge about specific functions of the left PPC.


Corresponding author

Correspondence and reprint requests to: Donel Martin, Black Dog Institute, Hospital Rd., Randwick, NSW 2031 Australia. E-mail:


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