Non-invasive brain stimulation enhances cognition in older adults

A recent publication by Dr Claire Hanley reveals that transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) can improve the way older adults cope with multiple demands on their cognitive resources. Participants receiving active tDCS, as opposed to placebo stimulation, demonstrated faster performance speeds when switching between elements of a complex attention-based task.

Double-blind, sham-controlled tDCS was administered on three separate occasions in conjunction with a newly developed task-switching paradigm; designed to offer robust yet flexible measures of performance based on individual capability. The results emphasise the positive impact of active stimulation, which was shown to have an acute influence on attentional control. Therefore, it can be concluded that tDCS explicitly designed for use with older adults is able to enhance attentional control above and beyond potential gains offered by using cognitive training alone. This readily available and inexpensive intervention could be of substantial benefit to the health and well-being of older adults. Consequently, the research represents a promising foundation from which to investigate the scope of such potential advances in order to attenuate the onset of cognitive decline.