Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is a non-invasive method of brain stimulation that involves delivering weak, direct electrical currents through the scalp in order to modulate cortical excitability.  Applying electrical stimulation in an effort to manipulate brain function has a rich history dating back several hundred years, but only in the past decade has it been incorporated systematically into cognitive neuroscientific research.  Indeed, the past five years have seen an explosion in the number of publications involving tDCS (from fewer than 20 in 2006 to more than 220 in 2011).  As with any new research tool in neuroscience, it is important to introduce students to this methodology at the undergraduate level, to improve neuroscientific literacy and to prepare them better for graduate-level education in the fields of neuroscience and medicine.  Here, I present a novel undergraduate laboratory course in tDCS that I recently implemented at Gettysburg College (the first to be offered at the undergraduate level).  I also demonstrate the feasibility of implementing an undergraduate laboratory course in tDCS at other institutions.  The course focused on the use of tDCS in cognitive neuroscience research and provided students with the opportunity to learn about the theoretical and technical foundations of tDCS.  Lectures covered a variety of topics specific to tDCS, including tDCS hardware and physics as well as the physiological basis of the neuromodulatory effects of tDCS.  Students also read and discussed primary research articles that used tDCS to investigate specific topics within cognitive neuroscience (e.g., working memory, emotion, and language).  Additionally, students designed and implemented their own novel tDCS experiment over the course of the semester (including data collection and statistical analyses).   Student evaluations from the course were compared with those from previous laboratory courses involving brain imaging (fMRI) at Gettysburg College. Statistical analyses revealed that students reported being significantly more interested in neuroscience research as a result of the tDCS course and significantly better prepared for advanced and graduate-level coursework in neuroscience as a result of the tDCS course, compared to previous fMRI laboratory courses at Gettysburg.  Given that tDCS is a safe and relatively inexpensive method of modulating brain function, the success of the present course demonstrates the advantages of incorporating non-invasive electrical brain stimulation into the undergraduate neuroscience curriculum.


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