tDCS for writer's block?

tDCS stands for trans-cranial direct-current stimulation, which is being researched as a treatment for chronic pain and other disorders of brain function. An interesting feature of tDCS is its ability to subtly affect thinking styles, such as modifying a person's tendency to think over a choice versus making a more rapid decision.

Writer's block is a well known phenomenon in the history of literature. It is the otherwise unexplained inability of an accomplished writer to produce new work. Writer's block has been linked to anxiety and other distractions, but one theory of its cause is that a decision vetoing and supervisory function (maintained by the left frontal region) is causing excessive frontal inhibition. tDCS over the left PFC (pre-frontal cortex) region seems, according to the publication below, to tend to make decisions more impulsive and less inhibited. I would therefore expect that cathodic tDCS near the left frontal region might reduce writer's block, perhaps at the expense of the output needing extra revision later, if the left frontal inhibition theory is indeed correct.

The placebo effect should be useful, too, for that condition. Any volunteers?



Noninvasive transcranial direct current stimulation over the left prefrontal cortex facilitates cognitive flexibility in tool use

DOI:10.1080/17588928.2013.768221 Evangelia G. Chrysikouab*, Roy H. Hamiltonc, H. Branch Coslettc, Abhishek Dattad, Marom Biksond & Sharon L. Thompson-Schilla

Received: 22 Oct 2012

Recent neuroscience evidence suggests that some higher-order tasks might benefit from a reduction in sensory filtering associated with low levels of cognitive control. Guided by neuroimaging findings, we hypothesized that cathodal (inhibitory) transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) will facilitate performance in a flexible use generation task. Participants saw pictures of artifacts and generated aloud either the object's common use or an uncommon use for it, while receiving cathodal tDCS (1.5mA) either over left or right PFC, or sham stimulation. A forward digit span task served as a negative control for potential general effects of stimulation. Analysis of voice-onset reaction times and number of responses generated showed significant facilitative effects of left PFC stimulation for the uncommon, but not the common use generation task and no effects of stimulation on the control task. The results support the hypothesis that certain tasks may benefit from a state of diminished cognitive control.


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