The influence of tDCS on perceived bouncing/streaming

Maximilian A. Friehs, Marlena J. Stegemann, Simon Merz, Christoph Geißler, Hauke S. Meyerhoff, Christian Frings

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Processing ambiguous situations is a constant challenge in everyday life and sensory input from different modalities needs to be integrated to form a coherent mental representation on the environment. The bouncing/streaming illusion can be studied to provide insights into the ambiguous perception and processing of multi-modal environments. In short, the likelihood of reporting bouncing rather than streaming impressions increases when a sound coincides with the moment of overlap between two moving disks. Neuroimaging studies revealed that the right posterior parietal cortex is crucial in cross-modal integration and is active during the bouncing/streaming illusion. Consequently, in the present study, we used transcranial direct current stimulation to stimulate this brain area. In the active stimulation conditions, a 9 cm 2 electrode was positioned over the P4-EEG position and the 35 cm 2 reference positioned over the left upper arm. The stimulation lasted 15 min. Each participant did the bouncing/streaming task three times: before, during and after anodal or sham stimulation. In a sample of N = 60 healthy, young adults, we found no influence of anodal tDCS. Bayesian analysis showed strong evidence against tDCS effects. There are two possible explanations for the finding that anodal tDCS over perceptual areas did not modulate multimodal integration. First, upregulation of multimodal integration is not possible using tDCS over the PPC as the integration process already functions at maximum capacity. Second, prefrontal decision-making areas may have overruled any modulated input from the PPC as it may not have matched their decision-making criterion and compensated for the modulation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-66
Number of pages8
JournalExperimental brain research
Early online date10 Nov 2022
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023
Externally publishedYes


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