Effects of tDCS of dorsolateral prefrontal cortex on dual-task performance involving manual dexterity and cognitive task in healthy older adults

Milos R. Ljubisavljevic, Joji Oommen, Sasa Filipovic, Jovana Bjekic, Miklos Szolics, Nico Nagelkerke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Healthy aging limits the activities of daily living and personal independence. Furthermore, cognitive-motor interference in dual-task (e.g., walking while talking) appears to be more pronounced in the elderly. Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), a form of the non-invasive brain stimulation technique, is known to modify cortical excitability and has been investigated as a tool for enhancing motor and cognitive performance in health and disease. The present study examined whether tDCS targeting the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) could improve dual-task performance in healthy older adults. The effects of tDCS, among other factors, depend on stimulation polarity (anodal vs. cathodal), electrode setup (unilateral vs. bilateral) and the time of application (off-line vs. on-line). We therefore explored the effects of unilateral and simultaneous bilateral tDCS (anodal and cathodal) of left DLPFC while performing (on-line) the Grooved Pegboard Test (GPT) and Serial Seven Subtraction Test (SSST) alone or together (dual-tasking). The number of pegs and the number of correct subtractions were recorded before, during and 30 min after tDCS. The dual-task performance was measured as the percent change from single- to the dual-task condition (dual-task cost DTC). Only bilateral, anode left tDCS, induced a significant increase in subtracted numbers while dual-tasking, i.e., it reduced the DTC of manual dexterity (GPT) to a cognitive task. Significant changes 30 min after the stimulation were only present after bilateral anode right (BAR) tDCS on GPT dual-task costs. These findings suggest that anodal tDCS applied on-line interacts with a dual-task performance involving demanding cognitive and manual dexterity tasks. The results support the potential use of non-invasive brain stimulation for improvement of cognitive functioning in daily activities in older individuals.

Original languageEnglish
Article number144
JournalFrontiers in Aging Neuroscience
Issue numberJUN
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Aging
  • Cognitive task
  • Dual-tasking
  • Motor dexterity task
  • TDCS

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ageing
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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