Aarhus University Seal / Aarhus Universitets segl

Transcranial direct current stimulation (Tdcs) of wernicke's and broca's areas in studies of language learning and word acquisition

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


  • Evgeny Blagovechtchenski, St. Petersburg State University
  • ,
  • Daria Gnedykh, St. Petersburg State University
  • ,
  • Diana Kurmakaeva, St. Petersburg State University
  • ,
  • Nadezhda Mkrtychian, St. Petersburg State University
  • ,
  • Svetlana Kostromina, St. Petersburg State University
  • ,
  • Yury Shtyrov
Language is a highly important yet poorly understood function of the human brain. While studies of brain activation patterns during language comprehension are abundant, what is often critically missing is causal evidence of brain areas' involvement in a particular linguistic function, not least due to the unique human nature of this ability and a shortage of neurophysiological tools to study causal relationships in the human brain noninvasively. Recent years have seen a rapid rise in the use of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) of the human brain, an easy, inexpensive and safe noninvasive technique that can modulate the state of the stimulated brain area (putatively by shifting excitation/ inhibition thresholds), enabling a study of its particular contribution to specific functions. While mostly focusing on motor control, the use of tDCS is becoming more widespread in both basic and clinical research on higher cognitive functions, language included, but the procedures for its application remain variable. Here, we describe the use of tDCS in a psycholinguistic word-learning experiment. We present the techniques and procedures for application of cathodal and anodal stimulation of core language areas of Broca and Wernicke in the left hemisphere of the human brain, describe the procedures of creating balanced sets of psycholinguistic stimuli, a controlled yet naturalistic learning regime, and a comprehensive set of techniques to assess the learning outcomes and tDCS effects. As an example of tDCS application, we show that cathodal stimulation of Wernicke's area prior to a learning session can impact word learning efficiency. This impact is both present immediately after learning and, importantly, preserved over longer time after the physical effects of stimulation wear off, suggesting that tDCS can have long-term influence on linguistic storage and representations in the human brain.
Original languageEnglish
Article number e59159
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2019

    Research areas

  • Behavior, Broca's area, Issue 149, Language, Speech, TDCS, Wernicke's area, Word acquisition

See relations at Aarhus University Citationformats

ID: 162921792