Simulation analyses of tDcS montages for the investigation of dorsal and ventral pathways


Modulating higher cognitive functions like reading with transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) can be challenging as reading involves regions in the dorsal and ventral cortical areas that lie in close proximity. If the two pathways are stimulated simultaneously, the function of dorsal pathway (predominantly used for graphophonological conversion) might interfere with the function of the ventral pathway (used for semantics), and vice-versa. To achieve functional specificity in tDCS for investigating the two pathways of reading, it is important to stimulate each pathway per session such that the spread of current across the cortical areas due to the two montages has minimal overlap. The present study intends to achieve this by introducing a systematic approach for tDCS analysis. We employed the COMETS2 software to simulate 10 montage configurations (5 for each pathway) for three electrode sizes: 5x5, 3x3, and 5x7cm2. This diversity in montage configuration is chosen since previous studies found the position and the size of anode and cathode to play an important role. The values of the magnitude of current density (MCD) obtained from the configuration were used to calculate: (i) average MCD in each cortical lobe, (ii) number of overlapping coordinates, and (iii) cortical areas with high MCD. The measures (i) and (iii) ascertained the current spread by each montage within a cortical lobe, and (ii) verified the overlap of the spread of current between a pair of montages. The analyses show that a montage using the electrode size of 5x5cm2 with the anode at CP5 and cathode at CZ, and another with anode at TP7 and cathode at nape of the neck are optimal choices for dorsal and ventral pathways, respectively. To verify, we cross-validated the results with ROAST. This systematic approach was helpful in reducing the ambiguity of montage selection prior to conducting a tDCS study.

Bhattacharjee, S., Kashyap, R., Rapp, B., Oishi, K., Desmond, J. E., & Chen, S. H. A. (2019). Simulation analyses of tDcS montages for the investigation of dorsal and ventral pathways. Scientific Reports, 9(1), 1-17. doi:10.1038/s41598-019-47654-y
Rajan Kashyap
Rajan Kashyap
Annabel Chen
Annabel Chen
Professor of Psychology
Lab Director

Dr. SH Annabel Chen is a clinical neuropsychologist, and currently a Faculty member of Psychology at the School of Social Sciences.