Modulation of selective attention by polarity-specific tDCS effects

Anna Pecchinenda, Fabio Ferlazzo, Michal Lavidor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Selective attention relies on working memory to maintain an attention set of task priorities. Consequently, selective attention is more efficient when working memory resources are not depleted. However, there is some evidence that distractors are processed even when working memory load is low. We used tDCS to assess whether boosting the activity of the Dorsolateral Prefrontal Cortex (DLPFC), involved in selective attention and working memory, would reduce interference from emotional distractors. Findings showed that anodal tDCS over the DLPFC was not sufficient to reduce interference from angry distractors. In contrast, cathodal tDCS over the DLPFC reduced interference from happy distractors. These findings show that altering the DLPFC activity is not sufficient to establish top-down control and increase selective attention efficiency. Although, when the neural signal in the DLPFC is altered by cathodal tDCS, interference from emotional distractors is reduced, leading to an improved performance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by a FARI Grant (FARI-2010) from Sapienza University to AP and FF. Preliminary results were presented by A. Pecchinenda at the conference of the Psychonomic Society, November 14–17, 2013, Toronto, Canada.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 Elsevier Ltd.


  • Dorsolateral prefrontal cortex
  • Emotion
  • Interference task
  • Selective attention
  • TDCS
  • Working memory


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