Using multisession tDCS stimulation as an early intervention on memory bias processing in subthreshold depression

Chialun Liu, Yunlu Xie, Yaru Hao, Wei Zhang, Lizhuang Yang, Junjie Bu, Zhengde Wei, Haiyan Wu, Niccolo' Pescetelli, Xiaochu Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) as an intervention tool has gained promising results in major depression disorder. However, studies related to subthreshold depression's (SD) cognitive deficits and neuromodulation approaches for the treatment of SD are still rare. We adopted Beck's cognitive model of depression and tested the tDCS stimulation effects on attentional and memory deficits on SD. First, this was a single-blinded, randomized, sham-controlled clinical trial to determine a 13-day tDCS modulation effect on 49 SD (27: Stimulation; 22: Sham) and 17 healthy controls. Second, the intervention effects of the consecutive and single-session tDCS were compared. Furthermore, the attentional and memory biases were explored in SD. Anodal tDCS was administrated over left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex for 13 consecutive days. Attentional and memory bias were assessed through a modified Sternberg task and a dot-probe task on the 1st, 2nd, and 15th day while their EEG was being recorded. After the 13-day tDCS stimulation (not after single-session stimulation), we found reduced memory bias (Stimulation vs. Sham, p =.02, r2 =.09) and decreased mid-frontal alpha power (p <.01, r2 =.13). In contrast, tDCS did not affect any attentional related behavioral or neural indexes (all ps >.15). Finally, reduced depressive symptoms (e.g., BDI score) were found for both groups. The criteria of SD varied across studies; the efficacy of this protocol should be tested in elderly patients. Our study suggests memory bias of SD can be modulated by the multisession tDCS and alpha power could serve as a neural index for intervention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere14148
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2023
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Physiology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Physiology (medical)


  • alpha power
  • brain stimulation
  • cognitive hierarchy
  • memory
  • subthreshold depression


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