Weighing the Cost and Benefit of Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation on Different Reading Subskills
Adults struggling with low reading skills are underserved by limited available treatments. While brain stimulation techniques such as transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) has the potential to improve a variety of cognitive functions, little work has been done examining its potential to treat reading disabilities. Research on the effects of tDCS on reading abilities has been somewhat inconsistent perhaps in part due to discrepancies between studies in the nature of the tasks. In the current study, we examined the effect of tDCS to the left inferior parietal lobe (L IPL) on two reading tasks in low-to-average readers. We compared performance on a sight word efficiency (SWE) task and a rhyme judgment task before and after either stimulation to the L IPL, right superior parietal lobe (R SPL), or sham stimulation. Readers who received stimulation to the L IPL showed greater improvements on the SWE task, but less improvement on the rhyme judgment task compared to the R SPL and sham groups. This study demonstrates for the first time both a positive and negative effect of stimulation under the same stimulation parameters within the same participants. The results highlight the need to consider multiple tasks when assessing the potential of using tDCS as a treatment.