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, Lan Hung, Ovid J.L. Tzeng, Vincent Walsh, Neil G. Muggleton, Chi Hung Juan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

181 Scopus citations


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
StatePublished - 15 Jun 2011


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


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