Stimulating the aberrant brain:evidence for increased cortical hyperexcitability from a transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) study of individuals predisposed to anomalous perceptions

Braithwaite, Jason J. and Mevorach, Carmel and Takahashi, Chie (2015) Stimulating the aberrant brain:evidence for increased cortical hyperexcitability from a transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) study of individuals predisposed to anomalous perceptions. Cortex, 69. pp. 1-13. ISSN 0010-9452

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Abstract

Findings from neurological and clinical groups have shown that increased predisposition to anomalous experience/aura reflects an elevation in aberrant neural processes in the brain. However, studies of anomalous experiences in non-clinical/non-neurological groups are less clear on this matter and are more typically confined to subjective questionnaire measures alone. The current investigation, the first to our knowledge, carried out a transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) study of cortical hyperexcitability, and its association with anomalous experience in non-clinical/non-neurological groups. Sixty participants completed; (i) both excitatory (anodal) and inhibitory (cathodal) brain stimulation conditions of the visual cortex; (ii) a computerised pattern-glare task, where observers reported phantom visual distortions from viewing highly irritable visual patterns (a metric of cortical hyperexcitability), and; (iii) questionnaire measures of predisposition to anomalous perceptions. There were no reliable signs of cortical hyperexcitability (via pattern-glare tasks) when collapsed across the whole sample. However, a significant positive correlation between predisposition to anomalous experience and elevated signs of cortical hyperexcitability was observed. Crucially, there was a significant negative correlation between tDCS stimulatory conditions. A visual cortex that reacted more strongly to excitatory stimulation, responded less well to inhibitory suppression, and this pattern was related to predisposition to anomalous perceptions. Both findings are consistent with the presence of a hyperexcitable cortex. Collectively the present findings provide objective evidence that the brains of individuals predisposed to anomalous experiences/hallucinations can be hyperexcitable – even in the non-clinical/non-neurological population. These data are consistent with continuum models of anomalous experience and have important implications for contemporary theories of aberrations in self-consciousness.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Cortex
Uncontrolled Keywords:
/dk/atira/pure/subjectarea/asjc/2800/2805
Subjects:
ID Code:
81709
Deposited By:
Deposited On:
23 Sep 2016 09:18
Refereed?:
Yes
Published?:
Published
Last Modified:
01 Jul 2020 03:11