Neurodynamic correlates for the cross-frequency coupled transcranial alternating current stimulation during working memory performance

Seong Eun Kim, Hyun Seok Kim, Youngchul Kwak, Min Hee Ahn, Kyung Mook Choi, Byoung Kyong Min

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Transcranial current stimulation is a neuromodulation technique used to modulate brain oscillations and, in turn, to enhance human cognitive function in a non-invasive manner. This study investigated whether cross-frequency coupled transcranial alternating current stimulation (CFC-tACS) improved working memory performance. Participants in both the tACS-treated and sham groups were instructed to perform a modified Sternberg task, where a combination of letters and digits was presented. Theta-phase/high-gamma-amplitude CFC-tACS was administered over electrode F3 and its four surrounding return electrodes (Fp1, Fz, F7, and C3) for 20 min. To identify neurophysiological correlates for the tACS-mediated enhancement of working memory performance, we analyzed EEG alpha and theta power, cross-frequency coupling, functional connectivity, and nodal efficiency during the retention period of the working memory task. We observed significantly reduced reaction times in the tACS-treated group, with suppressed treatment-mediated differences in frontal alpha power and unidirectional Fz-delta-phase to Oz-high-gamma-amplitude modulation during the second half of the retention period when network analyses revealed tACS-mediated fronto-occipital dissociative neurodynamics between alpha suppression and delta/theta enhancement. These findings indicate that tACS modulated top-down control and functional connectivity across the fronto-occipital regions, resulting in improved working memory performance. Our observations are indicative of the feasibility of enhancing cognitive performance by the CFC-formed tACS.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1013691
JournalFrontiers in Neuroscience
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Oct 3


  • cross-frequency coupling (CFC)
  • neuromodulation
  • nodal efficiency
  • transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS)
  • working memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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