Stimulating prefrontal cortex facilitates training transfer by increasing representational overlap

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Stimulating prefrontal cortex facilitates training transfer by increasing representational overlap

Authors

Wards, Y.; Ehrhardt, S. E.; Filmer, H. L.; Mattingley, J. B.; Garner, K. G.; Dux, P. E.

Abstract

Difficulties in multitasking may be the price humans pay for our ability to generalise learning to new tasks. Mitigating these costs through training has been associated with reduced overlap of constituent task representations within a task-related brain network. Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), which can modulate neural activity, has shown promise in generalising training gains. Whether tDCS influences the changes in task-associated representations to produce such training generalisation remains unexplored. Here, we paired prefrontal cortex tDCS with multitasking training, and collected functional magnetic resonance imaging data pre- and post-training. We found that 1mA tDCS enhanced visual search performance, and using machine learning to assess the overlap of brain activity related to the training, show that these generalised gains were predicted by changes in classification accuracy for patterns of frontal, parietal, and cerebellar activity in participants who received left prefrontal cortex stimulation. Thus, prefrontal cortex tDCS interacts with training related changes in task representations, potentially driving the generalisation of learning.

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