Emerging applications of transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS): e‑sports skills training, cognitive enhancement in older adults

10 Min­utes of Elec­tri­cal Stim­u­la­tion Dur­ing Gam­ing Helps Improve e‑Sports Skills (Tech­nol­o­gy Networks):

Researchers at Lero, the Sci­ence Foun­da­tion Ire­land Research Cen­tre for Soft­ware and Uni­ver­si­ty of Lim­er­ick (UL), have found video gamers can sig­nif­i­cant­ly improve their esport skills by train­ing for just 10 min­utes a day.

The research team at Lero’s Esports Sci­ence Research Lab (ESRL) at UL also found novice gamers ben­e­fit­ed most when they wore a cus­tom head­set deliv­er­ing tran­scra­nial Direct Cur­rent Stim­u­la­tion (tDCS) for 20 min­utes before train­ing sessions.

Par­tic­i­pants wore a cus­tom head­set (HALO Neu­ro­science™) designed to deliv­er tran­scra­nial Direct Cur­rent Stim­u­la­tion (tDCS). How­ev­er, some received no stim­u­la­tion, oth­ers just a ‘sham’ treat­ment, while the remain­der received a 20-minute exposure.

Our study found that novice gamers who received tDCS over their motor cor­tex before train­ing improved their per­for­mance on the spe­cif­ic task over five days, sig­nif­i­cant­ly more than novices who trained fol­low­ing no such stim­u­lus,” explained Dr Campbell.

The Study: The effect of exper­tise, train­ing and neu­rostim­u­la­tion on sen­so­ry-motor skill in esports (Com­put­ers in Human Behav­ior). From the abstract:

  • Recent­ly, increased atten­tion has been direct­ed to the brain to bet­ter under­stand how motor skill exper­tise devel­ops. One promis­ing tech­nique pur­port­ed to accel­er­ate motor skill improve­ment is tran­scra­nial direct cur­rent stim­u­la­tion (tDCS). While sim­ple fine motor tasks involv­ing the hands and fin­gers are most fre­quent­ly used to inves­ti­gate the role of tDCS on motor skill learn­ing, less work has exam­ined the role of tDCS on com­plex sen­sori-motor tasks applic­a­ble to occu­pa­tion­al, sport, and dai­ly liv­ing activ­i­ties. Esports require a high degree of sen­sori-motor con­trol and have become one of the most pop­u­lar forms of dig­i­tal enter­tain­ment world­wide … We found that per­for­mance on a sin­gle fun­da­men­tal esport skill can dif­fer­en­ti­ate exper­tise among novice and skilled play­ers, that train­ing can sig­nif­i­cant­ly improve per­for­mance among all exper­tise lev­els and that tDCS pref­er­en­tial­ly accel­er­ates the per­for­mance improve­ments of novice play­ers. The impli­ca­tions of this work, specif­i­cal­ly regard­ing the tem­po­ral appli­ca­tion of tDCS dur­ing com­plex motor skill learn­ing and reha­bil­i­ta­tion, are discussed.

Related Study:

Tran­scra­nial elec­tri­cal stim­u­la­tion improves cog­ni­tive train­ing effects in healthy elder­ly adults with low cog­ni­tive per­for­mance (Clin­i­cal Neu­ro­phys­i­ol­o­gy). From the abstract:

  • Objec­tive: To inves­ti­gate the effi­ca­cy of tran­scra­nial direct (tDCS) or alter­nat­ing cur­rent stim­u­la­tion (tACS) in boost­ing cog­ni­tive train­ing effi­cien­cy in healthy old­er adults. We fur­ther explored whether such improve­ments depend on gen­er­al cog­ni­tive per­for­mance or age.
  • Meth­ods: In this ran­dom­ized, sham-con­trolled study, 59 healthy elder­ly par­tic­i­pants (mean age 71.7) were assigned to receive com­put­er-based cog­ni­tive train­ing (10 ses­sions, 50 min, twice week­ly) com­bined with tDCS (2 mA), tACS (5 Hz), or sham stim­u­la­tion over the left dor­so­lat­er­al pre­frontal cor­tex (20 min­utes). Cog­ni­tive per­for­mance was assessed with the Mon­tre­al Cog­ni­tive Assess­ment (MoCA), and a cog­ni­tive com­pos­ite score derived from a broad neu­ropsy­cho­log­i­cal test bat­tery before and imme­di­ate­ly after the inter­ven­tion as well as at 6 and 12 months follow-ups.
  • Results: Per­for­mance in the cog­ni­tive com­pos­ite score improved sig­nif­i­cant­ly in all groups but was not fur­ther mod­u­lat­ed by neu­rostim­u­la­tion. Addi­tion­al analy­ses revealed that par­tic­i­pants with a low ini­tial MoCA score (< 1SD) improved sig­nif­i­cant­ly more in the tDCS than in the sham group.
  • Con­clu­sion: TDCS increased the effi­ca­cy of cog­ni­tive train­ing, but only in par­tic­i­pants with ini­tial­ly low gen­er­al cog­ni­tive performance.

Research in Context:

About SharpBrains

SHARPBRAINS is an independent think-tank and consulting firm providing services at the frontier of applied neuroscience, health, leadership and innovation.
SHARPBRAINS es un think-tank y consultoría independiente proporcionando servicios para la neurociencia aplicada, salud, liderazgo e innovación.

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