Enhancing social ability by stimulating right temporoparietal junction.
Santiesteban I., Banissy MJ., Catmur C., Bird G.
The temporoparietal junction (TPJ) is a key node within the "social brain". Several studies suggest that the TPJ controls representations of the self or another individual across a variety of low-level (agency discrimination, visual perspective taking, control of imitation) and high-level (mentalizing, empathy) sociocognitive processes. We explored whether sociocognitive abilities relying on on-line control of self and other representations could be modulated with transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) of TPJ. Participants received excitatory (anodal), inhibitory (cathodal), or sham stimulation before completing three sociocognitive tasks. Anodal stimulation improved the on-line control of self-other representations elicited by the imitation and perspective-taking tasks while not affecting attribution of mental states during a self-referential task devoid of such a requirement. Our findings demonstrate the efficacy of tDCS to improve social cognition and highlight the potential for tDCS to be used as a tool to aid self-other processing in clinical populations.