tDCS of right-hemispheric Wernicke's area homologue affects contextual learning of novel lexicon

Daria Gnedykh*, Diana Tsvetova, Nadezhda Mkrtychian, Evgeny Blagovechtchenski, Svetlana Kostromina, Yury Shtyrov

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Numerous studies have shown robust evidence of the right hemisphere's involvement in the language function, for instance in the processing of intonation, grammar, word meanings, metaphors, etc. However, its role in lexicon acquisition remains obscure. We applied transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) over the right-hemispheric homologue of Wernicke's area to assess its putative involvement in the processing of different types of novel semantics. After receiving 15 min of anodal, cathodal, or sham (placebo) tDCS, three groups of healthy participants learnt novel concrete and abstract words in the context of short stories. Learning outcomes were assessed using a battery of tests immediately after this contextual learning session and 24 h later. As a result, an inhibitory effect of cathodal tDCS and a facilitatory effect of anodal tDCS were found for abstract word acquisition only. We also found a significant drop in task performance on the second day of the assessment for both word types in all the stimulation groups, suggesting no significant influence of tDCS on the post-learning consolidation of new memory traces. The results suggest an involvement of Wernicke's right-hemispheric counterpart in initial encoding (but not consolidation) of abstract semantics, which may be explained either by the right hemispheres direct role in processing lexical semantics or by an indirect impact of tDCS on contralateral (left-hemispheric) cortical areas through cross-callosal connections.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107905
JournalNeurobiology of Learning and Memory
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2024


  • abstract concepts
  • brain
  • concrete concepts
  • cortex
  • language learning
  • neuromodulation (noninvasive brain stimulation, NIBS)
  • right hemisphere
  • temporo-parietal junction (TPJ)
  • transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS)
  • Wernicke's area
  • word acquisition


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