Cognitive enhancement with Salience Network electrical stimulation is influenced by network structural connectivity.

Affiliation

Computational, Cognitive and Clinical Imaging Lab, Division of Brain Sciences, Department of Medicine, Imperial College London, W12 0NN, UK. Electronic address: [Email]

Abstract

The Salience Network (SN) and its interactions are important for cognitive control. We have previously shown that structural damage to the SN is associated with abnormal functional connectivity between the SN and Default Mode Network (DMN), abnormal DMN deactivation, and impaired response inhibition, which is an important aspect of cognitive control. This suggests that stimulating the SN might enhance cognitive control. Here, we tested whether non-invasive transcranial direct current stimulation (TDCS) could be used to modulate activity within the SN and enhance cognitive control. TDCS was applied to the right inferior frontal gyrus/anterior insula cortex during performance of the Stop Signal Task (SST) and concurrent functional (f)MRI. Anodal TDCS improved response inhibition. Furthermore, stratification of participants based on SN structural connectivity showed that it was an important influence on both behavioural and physiological responses to anodal TDCS. Participants with high fractional anisotropy within the SN showed improved SST performance and increased activation of the SN with anodal TDCS, whilst those with low fractional anisotropy within the SN did not. Cathodal stimulation of the SN produced activation of the right caudate, an effect which was not modulated by SN structural connectivity. Our results show that stimulation targeted to the SN can improve response inhibition, supporting the causal influence of this network on cognitive control and confirming it as a target to produce cognitive enhancement. Our results also highlight the importance of structural connectivity as a modulator of network to TDCS, which should guide the design and interpretation of future stimulation studies.

Keywords

Cognitive control,Fractional anisotropy,Functional MRI,Response inhibition,Salience Network,Stop Signal Task,TDCS,Transcranial direct current stimulation,White matter tract,