In a previous study using transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS), we found preliminary evidence that phase coherence in the alpha band (8-12 Hz) within the fronto-parietal network may critically support top-down control of spatial attention (van Schouwenburg et al., 2017). Specifically, synchronous alpha-band stimulation over the right frontal and parietal cortex (0° relative phase) was associated with changes in performance and fronto-parietal coherence during a spatial attention task as compared to sham stimulation. In the current study, we firstly aimed to replicate these findings with synchronous tACS. Second, we extended our previous protocol by adding a second tACS condition in which the right frontal and parietal cortex were stimulated in a desynchronous fashion (180° relative phase), to test the specificity of the changes observed in our previous study. Participants (n = 23) were tested in three different sessions in which they received either synchronous, desynchronous, or sham stimulation over the right frontal and parietal cortex. In contrast to our previous study, we found no spatially selective effects of stimulation on behavior or coherence in either stimulation protocol compared to sham. We highlight some of the differences in study design that may have contributed to this discrepancy in findings and more generally may determine the effectiveness of tACS.
- Alpha oscillations
- Transcranial alternating current stimulation
- Visual attention