Modulating inhibitory control with direct current stimulation of the superior medial frontal cortex

Tzu Yu Hsu, Lin Yuan Tseng, Jia Xin Yu, Wen Jui Kuo, Daisy L. Hung, Ovid J L Tzeng, Vincent Walsh, Neil G. Muggleton, Chi Hung Juan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

173 Citations (Scopus)


The executive control of voluntary action involves not only choosing from a range of possible actions but also the inhibition of responses as circumstances demand. Recent studies have demonstrated that many clinical populations, such as people with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, exhibit difficulties in inhibitory control. One prefrontal area that has been particularly associated with inhibitory control is the pre-supplementary motor area (Pre-SMA). Here we applied non-invasive transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) over Pre-SMA to test its role in this behavior. tDCS allows for current to be applied in two directions to selectively excite or suppress the neural activity of Pre-SMA. Our results showed that anodal tDCS improved efficiency of inhibitory control. Conversely, cathodal tDCS showed a tendency towards impaired inhibitory control. To our knowledge, this is the first demonstration of non-invasive intervention tDCS altering subjects' inhibitory control. These results further our understanding of the neural bases of inhibitory control and suggest a possible therapeutic intervention method for clinical populations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2249-2257
Number of pages9
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jun 15 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Inhibitory control
  • Pre-SMA
  • Stop signal task
  • TDCS

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Neurology


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