Null tDCS effects in a sustained attention task: The modulating role of learning

Noa Jacoby, Michal Lavidor

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42 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to investigate sustained attention through modulation of the fronto-cerebral network with transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) in adults with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and control participants. Thirty-seven participants (21 with ADHD) underwent three separate sessions (baseline, active tDCS, and sham) and performed the MOXO Continuous Performance Test (CPT). We applied double anodal stimulation of 1.8 mA tDCS for 20 min over the left and right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), with the cathode over the cerebellum. Baseline session revealed significant differences between ADHD and control participants in the MOXO-CPT attention and hyperactivity scores, validating the MOXO as a diagnostic tool. However, there were no tDCS effects in most MOXO-CPT measures, except hyperactivity, due to a significant learning effect. We conclude that learning and repetition effects in cognitive tasks need to be considered when designing within-subjects tDCS experiments, as there are natural improvements between sessions that conceal potential stimulation effects.

Original languageEnglish
Article number476
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Issue numberAPR
StatePublished - 6 Apr 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Jacoby and Lavidor.


  • ADHD
  • CPT
  • Cerebellum
  • Learning-effect
  • Sustained-attention
  • tDCS


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