Selective enhancement of low-gamma activity by tACS improves phonemic processing and reading accuracy in dyslexia

Marchesotti S, Nicolle J, Merlet I, Arnal LH, Donoghue JP, Giraud AL.

PLOS Biology 18(9): e3000833. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.3000833

 

Abstract

The phonological deficit in dyslexia is associated with altered low-gamma oscillatory function in left auditory cortex, but a causal relationship between oscillatory function and phonemic processing has never been established. After confirming a deficit at 30 Hz with electroencephalography (EEG), we applied 20 minutes of transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS) to transiently restore this activity in adults with dyslexia. The intervention significantly improved phonological processing and reading accuracy as measured immediately after tACS. The effect occurred selectively for a 30-Hz stimulation in the dyslexia group. Importantly, we observed that the focal intervention over the left auditory cortex also decreased 30-Hz activity in the right superior temporal cortex, resulting in reinstating a left dominance for the oscillatory response. These findings establish a causal role of neural oscillations in phonological processing and offer solid neurophysiological grounds for a potential correction of low-gamma anomalies and for alleviating the phonological deficit in dyslexia.