Effects of prefrontal tDCS on dopamine-mediated behavior and psychophysiology Academic Article uri icon


  • AbstractThe ability to manipulate dopamine in vivo through non-invasive, reversible mechanisms has the potential to impact clinical, translational, and basic research. Recent PET studies have demonstrated increased dopamine release in the striatum after prefrontal transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS). We sought to extend this work by examining whether prefrontal tDCS could demonstrate an effect on behavioral and physiological correlates of subcortical dopamine activity. We conducted a between-subjects study (n = 30) with active and sham tDCS and used spontaneous eye blink rate (EBR), facial attractiveness ratings, and greyscales orienting bias as indirect proxies for dopamine functioning. The initial design and analyses were pre-registered (https://osf.io/gmnpc). Stimulation did not significantly affect any of the three measures, though effect sizes were often moderately large and were all in the predicted directions. Additional exploratory analyses suggested that stimulations effect on EBR might depend on pre-stimulation dopamine levels. Our results shed light on the sensitivity of indirect measures of dopamine in humans and add to a growing body of work demonstrating the importance of examining individual differences in tDCS response.

altmetric score

  • 3.7

author list (cited authors)

  • Imburgio, M. J., Ballard, H. K., Cornwall, A. C., Worthy, D. A., Bernard, J. A., & Orr, J. M.

citation count

  • 0

complete list of authors

  • Imburgio, Michael J||Ballard, Hannah K||Cornwall, Astin C||Worthy, Darrell A||Bernard, Jessica A||Orr, Joseph M

publication date

  • July 2019