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Stimulating vision: measuring and modelling transcranial direct current stimulation of the visual cortex

Esterer, Sophie 2019. Stimulating vision: measuring and modelling transcranial direct current stimulation of the visual cortex. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) has enjoyed something of a renaissance in neuroscientific research, however, this has not been accompanied by a commensurate increase in our understanding of its neurobiological mechanisms. At present, there remains a large explanatory gap between the stimulation effects on cells in in vivo or in vitro studies and the wide variety of behavioural findings in human studies. Consequently, tDCS research is currently confronted with a wide variety of conceptual and methodological challenges that have hampered the development of mature rationales for its use in healthy and clinical populations. This thesis aimed to address some of these challenges by combining data from behavioural and neuroimaging experiments with findings from individualised models of tDCS-induced electric fields. Experiments focused on the visual system, using relatively simple paradigms based on pattern-reversing checkerboards and the detection of achromatic dot stimuli to investigate stimulation effects on visual processing, The role of inter-individual variability – both in baseline sensory performance and in head anatomy – received particular attention in the design of studies. In the second chapter of the thesis, the question of suitable current waveforms for doubleblind, sham-controlled tDCS studies is discussed. The third chapter investigates the role of electrode montage in eliciting tDCS effects on contrast detection at central and peripheral visual field locations. In Chapters 4 and 5, inter-individual differences in anatomy are quantified using computational modelling of electric fields and neuroimaging methods. Work presented in Chapter 6 explores the feasibility of acquiring concurrent tDCS-NIRS-MEG data. Together, results from these studies suggest that the large parameter space for designing and interpreting human tDCS experiments calls for a broad range of methodological advances in future tDCS research.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Psychology
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Funders: EPSRC
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 17 June 2020
Date of Acceptance: 15 June 2020
Last Modified: 17 Mar 2021 02:18

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