Language Performance


Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) is a form of neurostimulation, which uses constant, low current delivered directly to the brain area of interest via small electrodes. This method was originally developed to help patients with brain injuries such as strokes, but since then has been utilized to enhance language and mathematical ability, attention span, problem solving, memory, and coordination. tDCS is a relatively unconventional method of stimulating the brain. While this method is gaining interest, the most commonly used method of brain stimulation is transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS).

Recent literature shows that tDCS can improve language performance in healthy subjects and in patients with disorders such as aphasia. Although most research results are concordant, many aspects still remain unclear. So far, there has been a strong focus on younger or older impaired individuals. However, a decrease in grammatical complexity and talking speed is evident in the elderly population. This decline could be related to changes in plasticity and might be halted or reversed by tDCS. The aim of our current research is to investigate the impact of tDCS on language and plasticity in an ageing population.

The BSF Nackvi International Collaboration grant has been awarded to Dr. Howard of MIT and European partners to conduct a year-long pilot study of tDCS’ impact on language development and retention in an ageing population. The assessment techniques of tDCS effects include TMS and questionnaires. Although, certain issues arise for the use of TMS to assess motor excitability for the muscles of interest for speech and language, it still provides an interesting parameter to assess motor excitability. Computational based unitary analysis methods (Fundamental Code Unit) will be applied to analyze the data.